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DPP now at centre of ‘tit-for-tat’ over criminal charges by govt, opposition

The Chambers of the Director of Public Prosecutions.

The opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP) on Sunday dragged the Director of Public Prosecutions, Shalimar Hack to the centre of an apparent tit-for-tat criminal charges against two serving government ministers, one former minister and a former senior government privatisation official.

“Whatever actions the DPP takes, the PPP expects it to be fair, even-handed and non-discriminatory,” that party said.

Former Attorney General, Anil Nandlall had asked the DPP to review and discontinue criminal charges of misconduct in public office contrary to common law against former Finance Minister, Dr. Ashni Singh and former Head of the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL), Winston Brassington in connection with the sale of three large tracts of land allegedly outside the valuation process.

However, the PPP said the DPP has so far no responded to that request for a review. That opposition political party recalled that the DPP had not intervened when “frivolous private criminal charged” had been filed against former President Bharrat Jagdeo two years ago by Christopher Ram. “The PPP recalls that the DPP did not intervene when frivolous private criminal charges were filed against former President, Bharrat Jagdeo, two years ago, by Christopher Ram,” the PPP said. That charge had been about remarks by Jagdeo at Babu John, Port Mourant that Ram had alleged had been racist.

The People’s Progressive Party (PPP) Headquarters- Freedom House.

Government’s charges against Brassington and Singh were followed by two private criminal charges of misconduct in public office contrary to common law by the PPP against Minister of Public Health, Volda Lawrence and Minister of Social Cohesion, Dr. George Norton.

Lawrence was charged in connection with instructions she gave to the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation to purchase more than GY$600 million in drugs from Ans Mc Al without going through the procurement process. Norton, in his capacity of former Health Minister, is charged in connection with the rental of a bond at Sussex Street, Albouystown, Georgetown for GY$14 million per month without going through the procurement process.

Attorney General, Basil Williams has since said the DPP’s Chambers would have to determine the fate of the case against Ministers Lawrence and Dr Norton. The DPP can discontinue the case against the Ministers.

“In other words, the Office of the DPP is invested with powers of quality control over all prosecutions in Guyana and has a proactive duty to patrol the Corridors of Justice to ensure her domain is not polluted by jaundiced interloper,” AG Williams explained.

The Attorney General said “there is no comparison between the cases. “No established investigatory agency or prosecutorial agency said anything about them [Ministers Lawrence and Dr Norton]. The former Minister was charged after extensive investigation, advised by the police legal advisor the esteemed Justice Claudette Singh S.C and the DPP and her chambers,” Williams said.