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– says disappointed in way chamber handled recent matters
Opposition Leader, Joseph Harmon says that citizens of Guyana are not blind to the partial nature of the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), Shalimar Ali – Hack, who has shown time and again that she will rescue prosecutors with insufficient evidence but will let those guilty of heinous crimes walk free.
“The DPP, I’m disappointed in her. I’m not gonna cut any corners about it. She will probably get angry but I don’t care. The people are angry outside there, the people are seeing these things and they expect something to be done about it,” he told the Village Voice.
Bringing up instances which he said has set firm the position he now holds, he told the newspaper that lawyers representing People’s National Congress/Reform (PNC/R) Chairperson, Volda Lawrence; Chief Elections Officer (CEO), Keith Lowenfield; and District Four Returning Officer (RO), Clairmont Mingo have all noted similar patterns of involvement of the DPP in their Court cases.
Lowenfield’s attorney, Nigel Hughes argues that though the prosecutors had insufficient
evidence and were ill-prepared to argue the charges against his client, the DPP swept in to take over the proceedings.
Mingo’s attorney, Darren Wade, said that it appears as if the DPP is going the extra mile to pin his client for electoral fraud as she similarly took over Mingo’s proceedings. The two examples are no different for Lawrence’s case, as her attorney said that before her charge was even read to her it was announced that the DPP would be taking over the proceedings.
Harmon said “These are private criminal charges brought by citizens. These charges, even before they are accepted in the Court, they must satisfy a certain evidentiary requirement that is sufficient for the Court to move, on behalf of a private citizen, to bring a charge against another person. You must have your evidence there, but the DPP now steps in and takes over these private criminal charges and now authorizes the police to go and find evidence to support it.”
Giving another example, the Opposition Leader drew attention to the DPP’s decision to relieve the GECOM Chair, Justice (Ret’d) Claudette Singh of her private criminal charges of electoral fraud while the similar charges filed against Lowenfield were upheld.
Harmon said that he became largely suspicious of the DDP’s impartiality during the national recount when current Minister of Home Affairs, Robeson Benn, was reported as having assaulted a female doctor for attempting to take his temperature in keeping with the COVID-19 guidelines but when an investigation was called for on the matter, the DPP dismissed it.
Benn reportedly slapped away the hands of Dr. Helen Imoff who resigned as a result of the incident. He claimed that he was trying to show the doctor that he had already taken his temperature at home on his phone and hit her by mistake.
She wrote on Facebook: “I am still in shock, I was in the field risking my life so that everyone can be safe. To be treated with such violence while performing my duties in the most respectful way, is painful, both physically and emotionally…it is painful to know that there is nothing out there to protect us while on duty because had I reacted with violence, I would have lost my license or even [be] locked up by now.”
A complaint was made by Dr. Imoff to the police but the matter was taken all the way up the DPP. “The lady made a complaint to the police for police investigation, Benn went to the police and admitted he slapped his hands away (and explained why) but that is not a matter for the police, that is a matter for the Magistrate Court or the judge. That is his defense. The matter went all the way to the DPP. I questioned the Commissioner of Police why is a matter like this which is a simple common assault, why does it have to go to the DPP and they said that he was a political figure.”
Eventually, the DPP concluded that there were not enough charges to be laid against Benn. Harmon said that was one of the strangest occurrences he had seen in ages.
Bringing up another case in point, he spoke to the March 2020 Bath protests which resulted in the attack of Police Officers and a school bus, injuring school children. Harmon said that when he enquired why the culprits were not yet charged he was told that it was “difficult to identify the perpetrators”. “From then I started to see the hands of the DPP in this,” he said.