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Fmr. Attorney General Doodnauth Singh dies

Doodnauth Singh, SC. (Stabroek News photo)

Former Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Doodnauth Singh died on Wednesday at the Balwant Singh Hospital hours after he was admitted.

He was 80 years old.

Singh, who was the Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) for the 1997 general and regional elections, had been suffering from heart and lung problems for several years now.

The well-respected criminal lawyer in the Caribbean, served as Guyana’s Attorney General from 2001 to 2009 when he resigned from the position.

Current Attorney General, Anil Nandlall, who regarded Singh as his mentor, said the legal fraternity has suffered a tremendous loss especially in the arena of jury trials. “It is a tremendous personal loss and it is a terrible loss to the profession,” said Nandlall of the man who was his first employer, presenter of his petition to practice law and “greatest inspiration in my legal career.” “I always tell young lawyers that they never had the opportunity to see Doodnauth Singh in full flow before a jury as a defence counsel.”

Singh was admitted to practice in Guyana in January 1959.

President Donald Ramotar was quoted by the Government Information Agency (GINA) as saying that that he was saddened by the news of Singh’s death.

“Mr. Singh, also a Senior Counsel, was a man of high intellect, having amassed great experience during his legal life, both locally and internationally. He served Guyana with utmost distinction, pride and selflessness.

He had given decades of service to Guyana, most in the legal profession, in which he was known as an outstanding legal luminary.

President Ramotar and First Lady Deolatchmee Ramotar, on behalf of the Government and people of Guyana express deepest condolence to the family and friends of the late Doodnauth Singh,” the brief statement reads.

Among the notable cases he was involved in was as Special Prosecutor against Patrick John, former Prime Minister and Members of the Dominican Defence Force for treason and murder, and Special Prosecutor in Grenada against Bernard Coard and others for the murder of Maurice Bishop, former Prime Minister and others.

Here at home, the former long-time associate of the opposition Working Peoples Alliance (WPA) was Dr. Rupert Roopnaraine’s lawyer in an arson case for burning down the then Camp Street headquarters of the Peoples National Congress (PNC). Roopnarine said that while was unsurprised by Singh’s passing, he was extremely saddened. “It has still struck me with extreme sadness. Doodnauth was a good friend. He defended me in the arson trial and I had known him for many, many years and we remained friends throughout the years,” Roopnaraine told Demerara Waves. “His last days were days of extreme suffering and I’m glad that the days are at an end but I will miss him,” he said.

Asked what Singh’s relationship with the WPA was, Roopnaraine said “I can safely say that he was at the side of the civil rebellion and he was very close to both myself and Walter (Rodney).” The WPA had fought bitterly against the PNC-led authoritarian rule under then President Forbes Burnham.