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BREAKING: High Court rules release of Statements of Poll to Police, DPP for criminal probe

Last Updated on Thursday, 27 May 2021, 9:59 by Denis Chabrol

Chief Election Officer of the Guyana Elections Commission, Keith Lowenfield.

Chief Justice Roxane George-Wiltshire on Thursday ruled that the  Registrar of the Supreme Court release copies of the Statements of Poll and Statements of Recount to assist in a criminal probe into alleged electoral fraud.

She said the Chief Elections Officer, Keith Lowenfield cannot be a party to block a request by the Police Commissioner and the Director of Public Prosecutions for the High Court to produce the documents for the purpose of a criminal investigation.

“Although the legal custodian of the documents, the CEO does not have an interest such as to object to the court granting permission for such a release,” the Chief Justice said in her decision.

The Chief Justice said the police could have obtained a search warrant if Mr. Lowenfield had refused to turn over the documents. Further, the Judge said he would not have enjoyed the right to a hearing in the Magistrates’ Court. “

The Supreme Court Registrar has within 10 days within which to photocopy and certify the Statements of Poll and Statements of Recount and as true copies before turning them over to the Police and the DPP.

The Chief Justice said the CEO has not disclosed how he would be affected by the release. Shee added that they are not his personal documents but belong to the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) of which he is the custodian.

Mr. Lowenfield is one of several senior and junior officers of the GECOM who are facing charges related to electoral fraud in the Magistrates’ Court.

Attorney-at-Law Nigel Hughes- for Mr. Lowenfield-had contended that his client had a right to be heard because the Statements of Poll and Recount could only be legally released for an election petition. But Ms George-Wiltshire said in her decision that, “the provisions of the Representation of the People Act and the National Validity of Elections Act, speaking as they do, to the custody and safekeeping of election documents and the challenge to the validity of an elections do not mean that these documents cannot be released to a law enforcement entities as part of their investigations or in support of criminal proceedings even where the CEO is also a defendant in criminal proceedings in relation to the elections.”

The Police Commissioner and the Director of Public Prosecutions want the Registrar of the Supreme Court to release copies of the Statements of Poll and Recount so that they could be used as part of investigations into several charges related to alleged electoral fraud against the Chief Elections Officer, Deputy Chief Elections Officer Roxanne Myers and the Region Four Returning Officer Clairmont Mingo.

Mr. Mingo faces four counts of misconduct in public office; Mr. Lowenfield three counts of misconduct in public office and three counts of forgery. Ms. Myers is accused of twice misconducting herself in public office.