Apr 14, 2021 News
Lawrence, Mingo, Smith-Joseph elections fraud cases…
Kaieteur News – Chief Magistrate, Ann McLennan, has ruled that the Chairperson for the People’s National Congress, Volda Lawrence; Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) Region Four Returning Officer, Clairmont Mingo; and A Partnership for National Unity +Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) activist, Carol Smith- Joseph, elections fraud cases will be disposed of summarily.
On the last hearing of the matter in the Georgetown Magistrates’ Courts, the Chief Magistrate ruled on the submissions for the mode of trial, in that the matters will be tried summarily, meaning the matters will be tried in the Magistrates’ Courts as opposed to going to the High Court for trial. The charges were reread to Lawrence, Mingo and Smith-Joseph – the trio denied the charges, and the matter was adjourned to June 11, 2021, for disclosure of statements.
On a previous hearing of the matter, the defence attorneys had asked the court for the matters to be tried indictably, which means that a preliminary inquiry (PI) will be conducted in the Magistrates’ Courts and if sufficient evidence is found, the matter will then be sent to be tried before a Judge and Jury in the High Court.
However, the special prosecuting team objected to the matters being tried indictably and had asked the court for the matters to be tried summarily, which means that the matter will be tried and disposed of in the Magistrates’ Courts.
The Chief Magistrate had then ordered both the prosecution and the defence attorneys to make their submissions, and had set a date for the ruling on the mode of trial.
The trio is facing multiple electoral fraud charges. All the matters are currently being heard in the Georgetown Magistrates’ Courts. Some of the defendants were slapped with a number of joint and individual charges. Some of those charges are misconduct in public office, conspiracy to commit fraud, forging a document and forgery.
Mingo and Lawrence are facing a joint charge, which alleged that on March 5, 2020, in Georgetown, with intent to defraud the public, they uttered a certain forged document, that is to say, a report purporting to be a true declaration of all votes cast in District Four for the March 2, 2020 general and regional elections, knowing said report to be forged.
Mingo also faced another joint charge with Smith-Joseph. That charge alleged that on March 13, 2020, they uttered a forged document purporting to be a true report of all votes cast in the March 2, 2020 general and regional elections, while knowing that the report was forged.
Additionally, Smith-Joseph faces two individual charges, which stated that on March 13, 2020, at High and Hadfield Streets, she conspired with Mingo and others to declare a fraudulent count of votes for District Four for both the general and regional elections.
On their first court appearance, Mingo was placed on $60,000 bail for the two charges he faced, Lawrence was placed on $30,000 bail for the joint charge she was slapped with, and Smith-Joseph was placed on a total of $90,000 bail for the three charges that were read to her.
The Police had announced last August that they will be conducting a comprehensive investigation into the criminal conduct of Chief Elections Officer, Keith Lowenfield; Deputy Chief Elections Officer, Roxanne Myers; Mingo; and others, in relation to the March 2, 2020 General and Regional Elections and the events that followed. During the ongoing probe, several GECOM officials were arrested and put before the court for electoral fraud charges.
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