• 24 Jun, 2024

11th hour Guyana Election Fraud case delay “not cricket”

11th hour Guyana Election Fraud case delay “not cricket”

11th hour Guyana Election Fraud case delay “not cricket”

Further procrastinations of the egregious Guyana Election Fraud trial is as shocking as is its incorporation of dirty bedsheets and contrived spreadsheets are, and continues to be a source of bewilderment and frustration, not least among Guyanese living in the diaspora. It could well be the object of comedy skits, except that this is no laughing or trivial matter. These delays denigrate the heart of our criminal justice system and shake the very foundations of our democracy in Guyana. The unprecedented villainous acts, grounded in the evidence, procedures and reports, must be ventilated and brook no forgiveness.

The Magistrate should not have given yet another postponement. It was an obvious tactic calculated to delay the case. She should have noted the defense’s request, as she did with the prosecution’s, and moved on with the case. The right to discovery is not an endless, timeless, nor limitless right. Nor should it be allowed to abuse the judicial sanctity of our legal system.

Moreover, when it is argued that section 140 (2) of the Representation of the People Act which provides that, “No evidence of any deliberations of the Elections Commission or communications between members of the Commission regarding its business shall be admissible in any court” somehow clashes with the constitutional right to a fair trial as outlined in article 144 of the Guyana Constitution, it wreaks of desperation. Indeed, the prosecution should argue that the same article of the Constitution nullifies that argument, “If any person is charged with a criminal offense…the case shall be afforded a fair hearing within a reasonable time by an independent and impartial court established by law.” [144(1)].

Judges in more developed countries do not allow such overbroad challenges to waste judicial resources. They allow the defendants to appeal their decisions, after the trial. Interlocutory disruptions like these are not allowed to stymie the judicial process. Even if the learned Magistrate reasoned that, in her opinion, the question raised by defense counsel is neither “frivolous or vexatious” and is worthy of consideration by the High Court, then it should be raised on appeal after trial. 

The “right to defend themselves” should not be expanded to a right to abuse the flow of justice, especially when, as the prosecution argued, the defense should have raised this matter two years ago during the period for disclosures, and had summoned his witnesses, including the 93-year-old, Mr. Kit Nascimento, in accordance with the Court’s schedule to commence the case. Justice is a two-lane highway. VP Bharrat Jagdeo is right when he asserted, “there is a deliberate attempt to stall the case, and frustrate the will of the people.” AG Anil Nandlall, a dedicated and exemplary jurist committed to improving the administration of justice in Guyana, must be rightly indignant with the flagrant, continued non-compliance of his counsel and example to other judicial officers.

This is a trial, where the evidence will determine the outcome, all things being equal. The defense must stop injecting red herrings and gamesmanship into the proceedings. Deal with the putrid substance of the case. Indeed, they must be careful what they wish for. The minutes sought may sink their defense, if any, further.

I must agree with those frustrated voices that no Magistrate should allow him or herself to be constrained by these legal maneuvers clearly designed to thwart the election fraud case from being tried. After three years, the Defense should not be allowed to recycle or manipulate legal methods calculated to frustrate justice in this case, especially when those arguments should have been raised earlier. With every postponement, the risk of this case being mooted and trivialized by another election cycle looms larger, and the people of Guyana are collectively deprived of justice.

The Magistrate must rise to the occasion, if only to satisfy the international concerns that the rule of law is alive and well in Guyana, and confirm to all that we are deserving of our global ascendancy, and world standing, as a nation proud of its basic institutions-like the delivery of justice. Judicial functionaries are reminded of the words of the famous Judge, Lord Mansfield, who posited, “Let justice be done, though the heavens fall.” Comedy hour has its time and place. This is not its place, nor time!

Sincerely,
 

HON. ALBERT BALDEO, DISTRICT LEADER, LITTLE GUYANA, NY, USA

Former Magistrate, Senior State Prosecutor and Police Legal Advisor in Guyana

(917) 548-1055

Albert Baldeo

Albert Baldeo is a civil rights activist and community advocate. As President of the Baldeo Foundation and Liberty Justice Center, he has continued the fight for justice, equal rights, dignity and inclusion in the decision making process. He can be contacted at the Baldeo Foundation: (718) 529-2300