Govt to request review of new charges against Ministers

first_img– AG says DPP’s decision to drop previous charges justifiedGovernment will be moving to formally request a review of the private criminal charges recently made against three senior Ministers in the coalition in relation to the controversial D’Urban Park Project.This is according to Attorney General Basil Williams while speaking on the sidelines of a conference on Monday. He explained that while a formal request was not made for the two previous charges, one would be made for these new charges.He was referring to charges made against Finance Minister Winston Jordan;Attorney General and Legal Affairs Minister Basil WilliamsPublic Infrastructure Minister David Patterson and Public Service Minister, Dr Rupert Roopnaraine.“I think if that has not been done, we are in the process of doing that,” he explained.The charges against the Ministers alleged a breach of the Procurement Act in relation to the expenditure of $906 million in public funds to Homestretch Development Inc for the construction of the Park.Jordan and Patterson have been jointly charged with misconduct and abuse of public trust for having allegedly authorised the payment. Dr Roopnaraine, on the other hand, who was a director of the company, has been charged with alleged misconduct and abuse of public trust.Previous to that, Ministers Volda Lawrence and Dr George Norton were charged over the sole sourcing of over $600 million in drugs and other pharmaceuticals for the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation and the rental of a house in Sussex Street, Albouystown, Georgetown, to be utilised as a drug bond at a cost of $12 million monthly, respectively.The charges were filed against the current and former Public Health Ministers on April 19, 2018, but were discontinued by Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Shalimar Ali-Hack. However, the Attorney General has admitted that no formal request was ever made to have these charges reviewed.At a press conference held on Saturday, April 21, 2018, Williams stated that the Government expects” the DPP to review the private criminal charges filed against the Ministers.The applicants’ Attorney, former Attorney General Anil Nandlall said given the quick action by the DPP, it was now apparent that even without a request, the Government’s expectations were met.Nandlall highlighted that while charges were discontinued against the two Ministers, no consideration was given to the formal request made to have the charges dropped against former People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) senior functionaries, Dr Ashni Singh and Winston Brassington, who were charged with three counts of misconduct in public office contrary to common law.In his response, Williams said, “I can’t be blamed for their lack of knowledge of the law. I…outlined the powers of the DPP, and the DPP had to be proactive. Why the DPP has power over all prosecutions in the country? And those that she didn’t initiate, she could intervene in – continue or discontinue them.”The DPP has not provided any updates on the request for the review of the charges against Dr Singh and Brassington, but did state her reasons for discontinuing those against Dr Norton and Lawrence.According to a recent statement from her office, Ali-Hack made the decision to discontinue the charges in the interest of good governance. She explained that such allegations ought first to have been reported to the Guyana Police Force for an investigation to be launched and the advice of the DPP sought.Nandlall, representing Dr Singh, said there was nothing that conferred a power on the DPP to be responsible for “good governance in the State of Guyana, especially in Article 187 of the Constitution, which sets out the functions of the DPP”.In this regard, he claimed that the DPP has clearly been influenced by extraneous and irrelevant considerations, and has acted ultra vires and unconstitutionally by ascribing to her office functional responsibility with which it is not endowed. He also plans to challenge this decision in court.The former Minister has pointed out that the institution of private criminal charges has been part of the local criminal jurisprudence for over a century. He reminded that it was always initiated by a private individual without the involvement of the Police and the DPP, and that there was absolutely no known legal requirement that the allegation must first be reported to the Police and the advice of the DPP sought.In fact, Nandlall argued that in many instances, it is the failure of the Guyana Police Force to act, or to act professionally, that led to the evolution and practice of private criminal charges.last_img read more