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A Partnership for National Unity and Alliance for Change (APNU+AFC) Shadow Minister of Legal Affairs, Roysdale Forde, S.C said the request by Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Shalimar Ali-Hack, S.C to acting Chancellor of the Judiciary Yonette Cummings-Edwards, seeking the
to remove Senior Magistrate Leron Daly from hearing the case against Detective Sergeant Dion Bascom has struck a severe blow at the heart of justice in Guyana.
The DPP on September 28th wrote the acting Chancellor “to invite Your Honour to consider exercising the power…by Section 12 of the Summary Jurisdiction (Magistrates) Act and assign the matter to another Magistrate to adjudicate on the matter.”
The request was made subsequent to the senior magistrate remanding (briefly) Police Prosecutor, attorney-at-law Mandel Moore, over his repeated failure to disclose evidence to the court of the police’s press conference of August 18.
The Chancellor is the Head of the Judicature, not the DPP. The Judicature under the Constitution of Guyana is an independent body.
When Bascom appeared in the Georgetown Magistrate’s Court on September 21 to answer for the three cybercrime charges brought against him by members of the Guyana Police Force, he was told his matters would be transferred to Court 2, and would be heard by Daly.
According to Forde, something seems to be beyond wrong with the DPP’s intervention, which he described as striking a severe blow at the heart of justice in Guyana.
“All law-abiding Guyanese must be concerned at this new ugly development that puts at risk a basic constitutional right to a fair trial in a Court of Law in this beloved country of ours.”
This is not the first time the DPP has attempted to do the unacceptable, he noted. “Citizens will recall that a few months ago, in a related matter, the DPP, without providing any reason, at all, or reasonable grounds, gave directive to the Chief Magistrate to discontinue private criminal charge against Head of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) Mr. Wendell Blauhum.”
On September 17, Bascom, through his attorney-at-law, Nigel Hughes, filed a private criminal charge against Blanhum. The next day the DPP informed Chief Magistrate Ann McLennan, via letter, that the charge is to be discontinued. No reason was given for dropping the charge save for the exercise of the powers conferred on the Office pursuant to Article 187 (1) (c) of the Constitution of Guyana.
In another matter, the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) had ruled it was unconstitutional for the DPP to unilaterally order a Preliminary Inquiry in the matter of Marcus Bisram, the shadow minister recalled.
Describing the DPP’s conduct on the Bascom’s matter as “a strange easily desirable pattern of unreasonable and unlawful intervention in certain matters,” Forde questioned how it is possible she could have contemplated and expressed a request to the Chancellor to have the trial reassigned.
Such action by the DPP, the senior counsel contended, gave rise to a serious and fundamental question: “Why?” A possible answer, he proffered, could be her wanting to influence the trial in a particular way. “Whatever the answer, the DPP’s action has left justice and fairness in a desolate place. Yet, these are two fundamentals (justice and fairness) that are indispensable not only to the integrity of the law but also to democracy and good governance of our society.”
Forde is urging society to reject the DPP’s intervention in seeking to determine who should preside over Bascom’s trial.
“Voices of truth and conscience, in our society, have a duty to speak out against it” he encouraged, drawing reference to U.S Founding Father, Benjamin Franklin, who said “Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are.”