by Gary Eleazar
Attorney General and Minster of Legal Affairs, Basil Williams, has denied ever threatening to kill a sitting Judge—Justice Franklin Holder—and has threatened to sue daily newspapers Guyana Times and Kaieteur News for ‘grievous libel,’ over the reports.
Williams made the charges today (March 24, 2017) when he appeared for an impromptu press conference billed as urgent, in the National Communications Network (NCN) studio’s and broadcast live.
Williams was at the time responding to the reportage in the two daily publications in their March 24, 2017 editions which stated that he threatened the sitting Judge who was then forced to leave the bench without ever formally adjourning the matter.
According to the reports which has since sparked widespread public condemnation, Attorney General Williams purportedly told Justice Franklin, “the last Magistrate who did that to me was later found dead… and I am saying so… that the last Magistrate who did this to me was found dead.”
Nandlall and Williams were at the time cross-examining a witness in the trial involving Carvil Duncan who was sacked from ………
Williams in his defence today at the ‘urgent’ press conference said Justice Holder was about the leave the bench when he (Williams) inquired—speaking Latin— and “asked out of excessive caution if the answer was recorded.”
He was speaking to the witness’ testimony regarding the receipt of a correspondence from the Office of the Prime Minister, Moses Nagamootoo and whether her answer had been recorded by the court.
The Attorney General in giving his version of events of what transpired during the court hearing said the Judge at that point told him “Mr. Williams, you not in charge of my court and I said no sir not me but that safely could be said of (Anil) Nandlall who trying to control court.”
Williams in his explanation of what transpired said the banter at the time had reminded him of a similar incident—albeit over examinations—that occurred between himself and his classmate who was then a Magistrate that cited him for contempt some years ago—a Magistrate colleague who is now incidentally dead.
The Attorney General told reporters in the NCN studio that said he was of the opinion that the Judge leaving the bench when he made an enquiry.
According to Williams, the fact that a date had not been set for the next hearing is not out of the ordinary.
The recently silked Senior Counsel, went on to explain that this formality is routinely done by clerks at a subsequent time by way of correspondence.
He told reporters, at no time was the Judge threatened nor should he have felt threatened nor has he reported being threatened.
Turning his attention to the media and its reportage over the courtroom incident that occurred yesterday (March 23, 2017), Williams said it was an attack on his office and by extension the government along with his character, which is being besmirched.
The Attorney General said he is going to make good on his threats to pursue legal action against the media houses and that he would have been preparing a dossier over the years documenting false and spurious allegations for which the publications will be faced with having pay ‘Exemplary Damages’ for libel.
“Did the newspaper approach the judge to get confirmation whether he was threatened or not,” Williams questioned, and reported that he has since not seen Justice Holder.
The Attorney General said too, both Guyana Times and Kaieteur News have in the past been given fair warning but, “I am not going to encourage persons to come and attack me in that way in the way.”
According to Williams, he has already been in consultation with several Attorneys-at-Law over a response to the newspapers and that “we will have to take it to the court.”
However, late Friday Mr. Nandlall insisted that his account is factual.
“His (Williams’) reckless utterances to Justice Holder was witnessed by at least two State Counsel of the AG’s Chambers, whom I have no doubt he will either force to remain silent, or lie for him, Carvil Duncan, Carvil Duncan’s Confidential Secretary, Diana Persaud, Rajendra Jaigobin, Attorney-at-Law, members of the press, two Marshalls of the High Court, my Personal Assistant Shivun Hutson, and a few persons who are unknown to me. These persons were all in the Court.
Yet, Mr. Williams bare-facedly denies that he made the statements published by the press, which caused the Honourable Justice Holder to walk off the Bench in disgust and possibly fear, without adjourning the matter. In his characteristic style, Mr. Williams desperately tries to blame me for the morass in which he now finds himself and dishonestly accuses me of causing the Judge to walk off the Bench,” said Nandlall.
Under the Influence
The Attorney General also used the occasion to castigate his predecessor Anil Nandlall questioning whether he was under the influence of something given his incessant disruptions during the hours of court proceeding.
Williams SC, during his press engagement disclosed that following the exchange between himself and Justice Holder, “Nandlall jump in and stated in usual style as though he was under the influence of something interrupting the Judge from leaving the bench.”
Lashing out at his predecessor, Nandlall who appeared as Counsel for Duncan, the Attorney General and Minister and Legal Affairs said he is in fact concerned that was allowed to dominate the court session for the entirety of the morning session of hearing.
“I am very concerned that for an entire session from 9:15 (hrs) to 12:00 (hrs) Nandlall had been disturbing the court incessantly.”