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– after release on $100,000 bail on alleged fraud charges
Chairperson of the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) and former Minister of Health, Volda Lawrence was dealt two charges from the State at the Georgetown Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday for conspiracy to defraud at the General Elections and conspiracy to defraud at the Regional Elections in her party’s favor.
On Tuesday, after voluntarily visiting the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) in the company of her attorney, Nigel Hughes, Lawrence was detained and questioned. Later in the afternoon, she was released on $100,000 station bail.
Again, on Wednesday morning, Lawrence visited the CID at 08:00 hours as requested where she was arrested and told there that there were two charges to her. These charges were read to her at the station and later at the Court after which she was released on $50,000 bail for each charge, amounting to $100,000. The prosecution did not object to bail but requested substantial bail.
The occasion marked the second time that Lawrence has been charged and the third time that she has had to pay $100,000 bail to be released. Her first charge is related to private criminal charges filed against her by Minister of Culture, Youth and Sport, Charles Ramson Jr. for alleged conspiracy to forge documents in her party’s favor.
Speaking to the media outside of the Court, her attorney, Nigel Hughes said: “You’re gonna ask me how is it that she was charged again. The previous charges were private criminal charges [but] these are the first set of charges the State has instituted against her. We suspect it is not the last set of charges based on the statements made by the prosecution today.”
Inside the Court, the Magistrate had inquired of State Counsel, Tariq Mohamed whether the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Office was finished compiling their evidence against Lawrence but Mohamed said that they were not as they had more witness statements to gather.
Hughes said that the matter was therefore scheduled to come up for December 9, 2020. The Court has also ordered Full Disclosure which will see video copies of the police interview of Lawrence being released.
“Upon inquiry from the Magistrate whether they intend to consolidate all of the matters at some stage, Mr. Mohamed said yes but he couldn’t say when. So, given the pattern of conduct that is emerging, it appears as if they intend to have the leadership of one of the political parties possibly running to the police station and then bringing her here,” he said.
“It is my hope that we could be a little bit more efficiently run. When they’ve completed their investigation if they can consolidate all that they have to allege and make one job of it so that we don’t have to continue to waste your time and certainly waste Ms. Lawrence’s time to be coming here other than if there is some other intent which is to have Ms. Lawrence exercise and be humiliated every time she has to attend the police station.”
Outside the Court, a group of supporters of Lawrence gathered, openly voicing their concerns that she was being treated unjustly. Lawrence thanked those who have been showing her support and said that she remains fortified in her innocence.
“I remain strong, I know I have done nothing wrong and I’ll continue to say that because that is what it is. As the PPP used to say during the 24 years: ‘we will have our say and they will have their way’. I think that is what we’re seeing here…the same charges are being laid before me, this time by the State so I want to believe that there is an attempt to have a political pull back and use the State apparatus to harass and persecute me and others,” she said.
On Tuesday, Opposition Leader, Joseph Harmon said that several letters have been sent to the international community regarding the arrests and ill-treatment of certain staff of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), members of the public service, and members of the Opposition under the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPPC) and more are being prepared in light of recent actions.