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Court contempt case against GECOM Returning Officer Mingo withdrawn because of “insufficient evidence” ; Anil Nandlall escapes hefty wasted cost

Clairmont Mingo

Chief Justice, Roxane George-Wiltshire on Friday awarded costs totalling GYD$450,000 to the Chairman of the Guyana Elections Officer, Retired Justice Claudette Singh and Region Four Returning Officer , Clairmont Mingo after the plaintiff’s lawyer, Anil Nandlall, withdrew the contempt of court case against Mingo.

That’s because  lawyers  representing the now dead plaintiff, Reeaz Holladar withdrew the case because of insufficient evidence.

Justice George backed down from original intention of imposing wasted court costs directly on Nandlall, but after hearing a spirited representation by his colleague Attorney-at-Law, Devendra Kissoon, she decided to award regular costs to each of the defendants.

Kissoon, in his representation, also acknowledged that the evidence against Mingo was “thin” and needed to be fleshed out. That description sparked off serious concern by the judge. “Do you come to court and ask for somebody to be imprisoned on thin evidence?,” she asked rhetorically, as she cautioned that it was not “about a fleshing out”.

He successfully convinced the Chief Justice to  substitute Holladar with Ms. Bhairo as administrator of the estate of Holladar, grant the application to withdraw and discontinue the case and then award costs. “I don’t think Mr. Nandlall would have satisfied the threshold of being negligent, making an act or omission. He was trying his best to put forward to the court the case he was tasked with at the time,” Kissoon said.

The Chief Justice chided Nandlall for not pursuing the contempt case dating back to March 12, 2020. “You were considering other issues, not legal issues; non-legal issues and why must that concern the court,” she said in recalling a discussion with the former Attorney General.

She highlighted that, in his letter to the court, he had already known that he did not have sufficient evidence dating back to more than one  month ago. Justice George expressed serious concern that often times lawyers go to court saying that they had instruction.

Nandlall said he had filed the contempt of court case against Mingo due to public interest and a matter of national importance, but Defence Lawyer for the GECOM Chairman, Neil Boston said it was “strange” that was a public interest application but Nandlall confessed that that there was no evidence to support his case. “Obviously, you were prosecuting this matter in bad faith,” Boston said.

Nandlall had wanted Mingo to be imprisoned for disobeying the Chief Justice’s orders twice on the methodology that should have been used to tabulate the results for Region/ District Four after political parties and foreign and local observers had expressed concern that the tabulations had been padded in favour of A Partnership for National Unity+Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC).