The conspiracy charge against the Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), Retired Justice James Patterson and the body’s three coalition-appointed commissioners was dismissed this morning after Chief Magistrate Ann McLennan ruled that the charges were “frivolous, vexatious, and lack merit”. 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.
The matter’s dismissal come after an hour of intense arguments by Special Prosecutor, attorney Sanjeev Datadin who filed the charge on behalf of Gaskin.
Apart from Justice Patterson, the government commissions include Charles Corbin, Vincent Alexander, and Desmond Trotman. However, only Patterson and Trotman were present in court when the matter was called. The court heard a summons was never issued for the other two defendants.
The charge alleged that during the period of December 22, 2018 to March 9, 2019, the defendants conspired to breach Article 106 of the Constitution of Guyana which provided for the holding of General Elections in Guyana within three months of a no confidence motion.
Attorney-at-law Neil Boston represented the four defendants. He began arguments by telling the Magistrate that the court has no jurisdiction to entertain the charge which he considers as “nuisance value”. The lawyer added that the charge against his clients is a “Mickey Mouse”, thereby having no merit and should be dismissed. He further went on to tell the court that the charge does not disclose an offence known to the laws of Guyana. He added that Article 103(Section 140) excludes the court to intervene in matters regarding to GECOM. Boston maintained that an individual cannot be charged for breach of the constitution, but rather, hold the body accountable.
Datadin, in responding to Boston’s argument, told the court that the defendants indeed breached the constitution and told the court that the offence is known to law and the court should proceed with a trial.
He added that it is not a matter of the validity of anything, since at this stage the prosecution does not intend to validate anything and conspiracy charges date back to the 1960s, when such charges were laid against Individuals who breached the constitution, and therefore the defendants should be held accountable for the offence.
The Chief Magistrate in responding to both arguments told the court that after perusing the file and statements which are before her, she is of the opinion that it does not create an offence and the charge appears to be frivolous since March 21, 2019 had not yet arrived.
She added that the charge is vexatious and lacks merit; hence she told the court that she will not consider any further arguments and she proceeded to dismiss the matter against the defendants.