Jun 27, 2022 Letters
I recently read with keen interest articles in the Stabroek and Kaieteur News about Justice Sandil Kissoon setting free Marlon Garnette, a murder accused who pleaded guilty to the lesser count of manslaughter. In the opinion of the judge, the prosecution did not produce enough evidence to convict Marlon Garnette of the charge, so the accused walked free.
According to both articles, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) said, “Self-defence is an issue to be decided by the jury. The jury is the judge of the facts of the case. The trial judge is the judge of the law.” If those words were in fact uttered by the DPP, it is shocking.
I had a little bit of legal training, benefited from direct legal instructions, did some research and also learn by osmosis. Therefore, I can understand simple legal process and most of all, I have some amount of commonsense which is not always common in everyone or common places.
Criminal prosecutions have a rigorous standard: proof beyond a reasonable doubt.
That is the basis on which someone is charged or not charged. There must be no exceptions and no one must be allowed to monkey around with the criminal justice process – who to prosecute, who not to prosecute. There must be a massive wall between criminal justice decisions and politics. We must not tolerate anyone to break through that wall. It must be absolute. Article 187 of the Constitution of the Co-operative Republic of Guyana gives the DPP the supreme authority as it relates to criminal prosecutions apart from court-martial, if he or she considers it desirable to do so. Whenever there is any doubt about any matter, the DPP must not send the case for a magistrate or judge or jury to deal with it. The DPP must cause the doubt to be cleared up or nolle pross the proceedings as was done on numerous occasions. In local language, “stop the dance right there.” We have had too many cases in court whereby persons were charged without proof beyond a reasonable doubt. The cases were sent to magistrates or committed for judge and jury trials. We are aware of the expected outcomes – no conviction. In many instances, the accused after years of continuous incarceration was set free, because there was no evidence to convict them. The case alluded to above is a prime example. In many cases, the Government was compelled to pay millions of dollars in compensation to the victims whose personal and family lives were shattered. However, they successfully sought and obtained legal redress against the State. The Attorney General recently lamented about this fact. Let us stop the miscarriage of justice. The rule of law must prevail.
I rest my case.
Assistant Commissioner of Police
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