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DPP withdraws private criminal charges against Lowenfield, Mingo, Lawrence; concerns raised about govt MP as prosecutor

Last Updated on Friday, 23 October 2020, 15:18 by Denis Chabrol

The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Shalimar Hack has withdrawn the private criminal charges against Chief Elections Officer Keith Lowenfield, Region Four Returning Officer Clairmont Mingo and Chairman of the People’s National Congress Reform, Volda Lawrence.

Defence Counsel Nigel Hughes confirmed that the DPP’s decision is based on the fact that the police have since instituted similar charges against

Though  Desmond Morean of the People’s Progressive Party, Mr. Lowenfield has been charged privately with misconduct in public office and fraud. He is on bail pending the hearing and determination of those charges. In two instances, Ms. Lawrence had been jointly charged.

While the private charges have been withdrawn, one of the lawyers- Glen Hanoman- who instituted the private charges has been given approval by the DPP to prosecute the accused in the State charges.

Mr. Hughes said he and his team have objected to Attorney-at-Law Sanjeev Datadin being given approval to prosecute in the cases because he is a sitting parliamentarian for the governing People’s Progressive Party (PPP).

“We have pointed out to the court that the duty of a prosecutor is to be fair and the provisions of the Legal Practitioners Act oblige prosecutors to be fair. All prosecutors have an obligation to disclose information which.may be favorable to a defendant. The appointment of a sitting government MP may create the appearance of bias and conflict with the professional obligations imposed on a prosecutors and consequently adversely impact the right to a fair hearing,” Mr. Hughes told News-Talk Radio Guyana 103.1 FM.

He explained that Rule 13 Part v of the Legal Practitioners Act states” when an Attorney-at-Law is engaged as a prosecutor , his prime duty is not to seek to convict , but to place the facts dispassionate before the Court. ”

Mr. Hughes said his team has submitted that the appointment of Mr. Datadin will have the appearance of bias as there is a real danger that he would not be able to place the facts dispassionate before the court

He said the court has invited submissions from both sides on the issue.
A similar decision was taken concerning the prosecution of Deputy Chief Elections Officer Roxanne Myers after objections on the ground of conflict by Mr Datadin.

The other lawyers who have been approved to prosecute the accused in the electoral fraud cases are 3George Thomas, Arudranauth Gossai, Ganesh Hira and Mark Conway.