Chief Magistrate Ann McLennan overstepped her bounds when she dismissed indictable conspiracy charges today against Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), Justice Retired James Patterson, and the three Government-appointed Commissioners, says the attorney who prosecuted the case against the officials, Sanjeev Datadin.
He told the Guyana Standard during an exclusive interview that he intends to fight back and will soon approach the High Court for a remedy on this issue. The charge was laid on Tuesday and was brought against the officials by civil engineer and businessman Marcel Gaskin who accused the GECOM officials of violating Guyana’s constitution, resulting in a delay of general and regional elections 90 days after the passage of the December 21, 2018 No Confidence Motion.
Datadin said, “I am surprised that it was deemed a frivolous matter by the court and that it was dismissed so quickly. I think that it is a misunderstanding of the court as to what the law is about common law conspiracy. It is not a very common thing, meaning, it is not widely known. You would have thought that they would have been able to recognise that common law conspiracy existed for centuries and the conspiracy to do any act which is unlawful is an offence and to breach the Constitution is an unlawful thing to do.”
Datadin said that the conspiracy charges were filed against the Chairman and Commissioners -Vincent Alexander, Desmond Trotman and Charles Corbin – because the Constitution mandates that elections must be had 90 days following the No-Confidence Motion, but they took a vote to do things which undermines this process. He reminded that the said individuals voted to tell the President that General and Regional Elections would not be possible by March 19. Datadin said, too, that the individuals also started the house-to-house registration process which would push the holding of elections well past eight months.
The lawyer said, “So this is a very simple thing. We still recognise conspiracy as an offence in our laws. And we provide a penalty for all common laws of this nature which is one-year imprisonment…We are surprised that the court did not recognise this and that it disposed of this matter when it was an indictable charge. This dismissal at this important time of our history is worrying. It is inimical to the interest of justice, and it is of great concern that a matter of this nature was dealt with in such a manner.”
He added, “We think that the Chief Magistrate erred. She did not have the power to dismiss any charges because it was an indictable charge. We are confident that she overstepped her bounds. We will not leave it at this. We will approach the High Court to have an order to remedy this.”
Datadin categorically stated that this is far from being the end. He said, “We might need to go to other courts but we are going to go as far as is necessary because we are certain that this common law offence exists.”