Apr 27, 2018 News
Attorney General (AG)and Minister of Legal Affairs, Basil Williams, confirmed yesterday, that the Director of Public Prosecutions, (DPP) has discontinued the private criminal charges filed against the Ministers of Finance, Winston Jordan; Public Infrastructure, David Patterson; and Public Service, Dr Rupert Roopnaraine in relation the controversial D’Urban Park Project.
During a meeting at the Ministry of Legal Affairs Boardroom, Minister Williams told members of the press that the charges were discontinued under the provisions of “Article 187 (1) (c) of the Constitution of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana.”
Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Shalimar Ali-Hack, had previously discontinued the charges against Minister of Public Health, Volda Lawrence, and Minister of Social Cohesion, Dr George Norton, citing her authority under the same provisions of the Constitution.
The DPP in a statement noted that “in the interest of good governance in the State of Guyana 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.”
The private charges were filed by PPP Parliamentarians Juan Edghill and Vickram Bharrat, through former Attorney General Anil Nandlall,
According to the charges, the Ministers were accused of “misconduct in public office contrary to the common law.”
According to court filings, Norton, in June 2016, while serving as Minister of Public Health, authorized the rental of a Sussex Street, Albouystown property for the purposes of a drug bond, from Linden Holdings Incorporated, for $12.5M per month.
Norton had come under immense public pressure. He was part of a Cabinet reshuffle that saw him being reassigned to the post of Minister of Social Cohesion. He subsequently received the additional appointment as Minister of Culture, Youth and Sport.
Lawrence, who was appointed Public Health Minister, is accused of the unapproved single-sourcing of $605.9M in drugs and medical supplies from Ansa Mc Al Trading Ltd. for the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC) between January and February, 2017.
The charges against the two Ministers came exactly one week after identical charges were filed by the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) against Dr. Ashni Singh, former Minister of Finance, and Mr. Winston Brassington, the former head of National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL).
The office of the DPP has since come in for heavy criticism from Nandlall.
In a statement, the former AG pointed out that the institution of private criminal charges has been part of Guyana’s criminal jurisprudence for over a century.
“There is absolutely no known legal requirement that the allegation must first be reported to the Police and the advice of the DPP sought. In fact, 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.”
“The position adopted by the DPP on this occasion will retard the advancement of our criminal jurisprudence and stultify the right and freedom of the citizen to institute and prosecute a private criminal charge without the involvement of the State,” Nandlall stated.
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