Monday, April 22, 2024

Guyana’s Former chief election officer refuses to testify

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The former chief elections officer, Keith Lowenfiel, Friday refused to testify before a Commission of Inquiry into the controversial March 2020 Guyana elections.

“Mr. Chairman, I will remain silent,” Lowenfield told the Commission, chaired by retired Trinidad and Tobago jurist, Stanley John after his attorney, Nigel Hughes, reminded the Commission that his client as well as the Dictrict Four Returning Officer, Clairmont Mingo, have a right not to potentially implicate themselves at the inquiry given they are facing charges in the court.

Mingo told the Commission, “I reserve my right to remain silent,” with the chairman, Justice John acknowledging that neither of the men would be obligated to testify if they did not wish to do so.

Last November, John said the inquiry was to find out the facts of what occurred, why it occurred, who is responsible, and what can be done to prevent a recurrence.

“We stress that in an inquiry of this nature there is no claimant and defendant, no prosecutor or accused, no pleadings, charges or indictments,” Justice John said then.

The other members of the Commission are former Chancellor of the Judiciary (Guyana), Carl Singh; and former Belize attorney general, High Court judge (Belize) and acting Justice of Appeal of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court, Godfrey P. Smith.

Lowenfield has been before the courts on several fraud related charges linked to the regional and general elections that was won by the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/)).

On his latest court appearance in October last year, he was granted GUY$300,000 bail after he was slapped with new charges arising from the disputed March 2 regional and general elections.

Lowenfield has been charged with three counts of misconduct in public office and three charges in relation to forgery. He was granted GUY$50,000 bail on each of the charges.

Lowenfield is also facing charges of misconduct in public office, conspiracy to commit a felony, and fraud arising from the country’s local and general elections, which the PPP/C won after a national recount had been undertaken and supervised by a three-member Caribbean Community observer team.

Lowenfield was granted bail in the sum of GUY$150,000 on each of the three charges that were filed privately on June 30 by Desmond Morian of the PPP/C and Josh Kanhai of the smaller Opposition, The New Movement party. (CMC)

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