By Renay Sambach
Region Four Returning Officer (RO), Clairmont Mingo, and two other GECOM employees were yesterday released on bail after they appeared in court to face multiple election fraud charges.
Mingo, who was accompanied by his attorneys, Nigel Hughes and Darren Wade, was arraigned before Chief Magistrate, Ann McLennan, in the Georgetown Magistrates’ Courts. Mingo was slapped with four charges alleging that he misconducted himself in public office by failing to disclose the number of votes that were counted during the March 2, 2020, General and Regional Elections.
He was not required to plead to the indictable offence which stated that on March 5, 2020, and March 13, 2020, at High and Hadfield Streets, Georgetown, while being a Public Officer, that is to say the RO of Region Four for the March 2, 2020, Regional and General Elections, he declared a result without ascertaining the total number of votes which resulted in him willingly misconducting himself without any reasonable excuse or justification.
While speaking to reporters outside of the court compound, Hughes said that the State was represented by Tarique Mohamed, a prosecutor from the chambers of the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) who made objections to bail being granted to Mingo on the gravity of the offences and based on the comments that were made by the Head of the Organisation of America States (OAS) Observer Mission, Bruce Golding, on the March 2, 2020, General and Regional Elections.
Hughes added that they then inquired on the status of the investigation and the court was informed that 21 more witnesses are remaining to be interviewed. Hughes then used that opportunity to make a bail application for his client and it was granted in the sum of $150,000, each for the four charges – a total of $600,000.
Also, Mingo was required to lodge his passport and was ordered to report to the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) Headquarters in Georgetown every Friday until the completion of the trial. The matter was adjourned to September 25, 2020, and on that date Mingo is expected to make his second court appearance.
On August 25, 2020 Mingo was arrested by police at his Calcutta, Mahaicony, East Coast Demerara home. This was after a probe was launched to conduct a comprehensive investigation into the formal reports that were made alleging criminal activities by Mingo and other GECOM officials as it relates to the March 2 elections and the events that followed.
Also placed before the court was Information Technology Officer, Enrique Livan, who was named in a USB flash drive scandal surrounding the tabulations of votes that happened on March 5, 2020.
Livan was slapped with one fraud charge
and was arraigned before the Chief Magistrate in the Georgetown Magistrates’
Livan is being represented by attorney-at-law, Eusi Anderson. Livan was not required to plead to the indictable charge, which alleges that between March 4 and 5, 2020 at High Street, Georgetown, together with others, he, while being an employee at GECOM, unlawfully altered the figures of the Statements of Poll (SOPs) to defraud the State of Guyana.
Objections were made by prosecutor Mohamed to bail being granted to Livan based on the seriousness of the offence, the comments that were made by Golding and the fact that Livan can interfere with the witnesses.
Chief Magistrate McLennan granted Livan bail in the sum of $150,000 with conditions that he lodge his passport, stay 50ft away from the witnesses in the matter and report to the CID Headquarters every day.
That matter too was adjourned to September 25, 2020.
Livan was arrested by the police a few days after Mingo. He was at the centre of the allegations during the derailed tabulations of the District Four count at the GECOM Media Centre in the Ashmin’s Building on High Street on the night of March 4, 2020.
Livan was accused of being in cahoots with the RO after he allegedly removed two integral pieces of technology needed for tabulations – a USB flash drive and a laptop.
Another GECOM employee was also charged yesterday. That employee, a woman, was slapped with two counts of conspiracy to commit fraud. The defendant, Sheffern February, appeared before the Chief Magistrate in the same court.
She was not required to plead to the indictable offence which stated that, on March 13, 2020, at High and Cowan Streets, with the intent to defraud the public of Guyana, while being a Clerk at GECOM for District Four, she did not use figures from the SOPs which resulted in a false declaration being made for the General and Regional Elections.
February is being represented by attorney-at-law Latoya Roberts. She was granted bail in the sum of $150,000 on each charge and the matter was adjourned to September 25, 2020. February too was ordered to lodge her passport, stay 50ft away from witnesses in the case and report to the CID Headquarters every day.
It is alleged that February worked along with Mingo to allegedly inflate figures from the March 2, 2020 polls to give the APNU+AFC coalition a victory.
While the matters were going on, coalition supporters gathered in front of the court and were chanting “Free Mingo”. Former Ministers and other officials from the coalition also turned up at court yesterday.Before the matter concluded, former President, David Granger; former Minister of Public Security, Khemraj Ramjattan, and the leader of the Opposition, Joseph Harmon, visited the court. When they arrived, the protesters starting cheering and shouting, “This is our President”.
Granger, Harmon and Ramjattan gave comments to the media as it relates to the elections petition that was filed yesterday in the High Court. After speaking with reporters, they proceeded to greet their supporters who were standing near police barriers that were set up some distance away from the court.
The men then waited at the entrance of the court for Mingo to post his bail. Before Mingo came out, his wife was asked to give a comment. Instead, the woman, with outstretched arms, started praying.
However, when Mingo and his attorneys came out of the court compound, it was chaos since some of the supporters had scaled the barriers and came running to Mingo as they cheered for him. Despite the presence of several police officers, they were unable to control the crowd that gathered around Mingo and his attorneys at the entrance of the court.
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