Chief Magistrate Ann McLennan has ruled that the electoral fraud charges will be against the National People’s Congress (PNC / R) Reform Chairman Volda Lawrence, Clairmont Region Four (Demerara-Mahaica) Returning Officer, and APNU / AFC activist, Carol Joseph , are summarily disposed of.
In effect, this means that the issues will be tried in the Magistrates’ Courts. As a result of the Chief Magistrate’s ruling, Lawrence, Mingo, and Joseph have all pleaded not guilty to the charges. They were instructed to return to court on June 11, 2021, to issue statements.
The Chief Magistrate will then set a date to begin their trial.
Their solicitor, Nigel Hughes, previously made submissions requesting that the allegations against his clients continue to be indictable. This would have resulted in the magistrate conducting a Preliminary Investigation (PI) to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to commit the trio to stand trial in the High Court.
Lawrence was slapped with two charges of conspiracy to commit fraud in the March 2, 2020 General and Regional Elections. She was bailed. Joseph is jointly charged with Mingo for forgery. They, too, have all been bailed.
In February, Senior Magistrate Leron Daly ruled that there will be a Preliminary Investigation (PI) into the two cases of misconduct in public office against Deputy Chief Election Officer (DCEO) Roxanne Myers. This was after she confirmed Hughes’s submissions for the allegations to remain indictable.
Before the end of this week, the Prosecution is expected to file a Notice of Motion in the High Court for the magistrate’s decision to be overturned.
Myers was not required to plead to the indictable allegations and noted that during the period March 4 and 14, 2020, she had deliberately misbehaved in declaring fraudulent results for the March 2, 2020 General and Regional Elections.
She has been placed on $ 300,000 bail in relation to both charges. Given the size of the leveled allegations against Mingo, Myers, Lawrence, Joseph, and Chief Returning Officer Keith Lowenfield, their lawyers argue that the best forum for the issues is in the High Court.
Lowenfield faces three counts of forgery and three counts of misconduct in public office. He has been placed on $ 300,000 bail. There are also electoral fraud charges against GECOM clerks Denise Bob-Cummings and Michelle Miller and GECOM Elections Officer Shefern February and Information Technology Officer Enrique Livan. They, too, have been released on bail.
The Lowenfield report claimed that the APNU / AFC coalition collected 171,825 votes while the PPP / C gained 166,343 votes. How those figures arrived is unknown.
The certified results from the recount exercise overseen by GECOM and a high-level team from the Caribbean Community (Caricom) bellucidly showed that the PPP / C won with 233,336 votes while the coalition generated 217,920.
The recount exercise also proved that Mingo greatly inflated the figures in Region Four – Guyana’s largest voting area – in favor of the APNU / AFC regime at the time.
The Director of Public Prosecutions (CPD) has employed a team of lawyers to prosecute these cases on behalf of the State.