Oct 22, 2020 News
– Carol Smith-Joseph makes first court appearance
By Renay Sambach
Kaieteur News – As the intense probe continues into the allegations of electoral fraud committed during the March 2, 2020, General and Regional Elections, the Chairperson for the People’s National Congress (PNC) and Former Minister of Public Health, Volda Lawrence, was yesterday slapped with an additional electoral fraud charge.
Also, A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance for Change (APNU+AFC) activist, Carol Smith-Joseph, made her first court appearance.
In the company of their attorney, Nigel Hughes, both defendants yesterday appeared in the Georgetown Magistrates’ Courts.
They were not required to plead to the indictable charges that were read to them. Lawrence was slapped with a forgery charge while three charges were read to Joseph; one count of forgery and two counts of conspiring with the Returning Officer for Region Four, Clairmont Mingo to defraud.
The prosecutor made no objection to bail being granted to the defendants and the Magistrate granted bail in the sum of $50,000, on each charge. The matter was then adjourned to Wednesday October 28, 2020, before the Chief Magistrate Ann McLennan.
While speaking to reporters outside of the court compound, Hughes stated that, once again charges are being filed by the Guyana Police Force (GPF) and when the matter reaches to court the prosecution is not ready to proceed.
During an interview with reporters yesterday, Lawrence stated that the repeated charges by the GPF have amounted to a level of harassment and that it appears that the Police have to please someone because, “Every other week they have to march us to CID, every other week they have to bring us to court.”
She added that, she was invited to report to the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) Headquarters, today at 01:00hrs, for questioning.
Just last week, Lawrence appeared in the Georgetown Magistrates’ Courts before Chief Magistrate Ann McLennan for two counts of conspiracy to defraud charges. She was released on $100,000, bail and the matter was adjourned to December 9, 2020, for full disclosure of statements.
She was arrested in relation to her involvement in the activities that took place at the Ashmin Building, Georgetown which was, at the time, set up as the command centre for the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) for the March 2, 2020 elections.
She was not required to plead to the charges which allege that she conspired with others to defraud the people of Guyana for the March 2, 2020, General and Regional Elections.
According to reports, Lawrence’s signature was on Form 24 for Region Four which had the fraudulent numbers that were allegedly concocted by Mingo, the Region Four Returning Officer, and that Form 24 contained figures intended to assure the APNU+AFC coalition victory in the March 2, 2020, General and Regional Elections.
Lawrence is also facing a joint charge with Mingo before Principal Magistrate Faith McGusty in the Georgetown Magistrates’ Courts, for the forging of a document that was used for a fraudulent election declaration on March 5, 2020.
The charge alleges that Mingo, having been procured by Lawrence on or about March 5, 2020, at the command centre for the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) on High and Hadfield Streets, Georgetown, uttered to the Chief Elections Officer (CEO), Keith Lowenfield, the results for Region Four, knowing it to be forged, with intent to defraud the people of Guyana.
The charge was filed by People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) attorney, Charles Ramson, on March 13, 2020. While Lawrence is currently out on $100,000, bail for the offence, Mingo was granted self-bail.
They are expected to make their next court appearance on November 16, 2020.
Police announced in August last that they will be conducting a comprehensive investigation into the criminal conduct of Lowenfield, Mingo, and others in relation to the March 2, 2020 General and Regional Elections and the events that followed.
During the probe, several GECOM officials were arrested and put before the court for electoral fraud charges.
Pic saved in Thursday as: Volda and Joseph
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