For many years, spanning several regimes, a huge number of cases have either been dismissed or unnecessarily mitigated resulting in an absurdly low fraction of jail time- vis a vis the sentence that would be imparted from the original charge. The recent dismissal of the case against Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs, Sharon Hicks, who was arrested by the police after allegedly demanding bribes from a businessman who paid her with marked bills that were retrieved by the police during a sting operation is a total calamity. The businessman who contacted the police refused to testify hence the dismissal.
Guyana is a country where there is justifiable view that there is rampant corruption in all the public sectors. Imagine a senior government functionary caught in a sting operation with bills which were marked by the police, charged for the alleged corrupt action, and have the charge dismissed because the businessman refused to testify and he is not compelled by the Court to do so. The law provides for a witness to be compelled to give evidence spouse and a mentally incompetent so long as the person is a competent witness and is capable of giving evidence, subject to two exceptions:
Another case in the litany of prosecution acrobatics is the manslaughter plea of Kurt Erskine, the killer who left his place of residence on July 05, 2015, armed himself with a gun and travelled miles and shot Ganesh Ramlall (Boyo) to death at La Jalousie, West Coast Demerara. He pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of manslaughter and received 15 years in a most bizarre decision and sentence handed down Justice Simone Morris Ramlall in 2021.The Citi-Mall owner was shot eight times! Faizal Bacchus, the lookout/ informer was freed (sentenced to time served) after pleading to the lesser count of manslaughter when this was a clear cut case of conspiracy to premeditated murder! Lenox Roberts, the third person charged in the murder, received a similar slap on the wrist in what is a clear case of a conspiracy to commit murder.
Only a month ago the DPP indicated that the famous whistleblower, Detective sergeant Orin Bascom, who declared that some 30 million dollars was paid to cover up the murder of Fagundes, who was shot a few blocks away from the President’s official residence, would face charges of misconduct.
It is quite clear that in Guyana, a country cloaked in middlemen and corruption that no public official, from President to proletariat can be found guilty of any crime and the whole hierarchy of powerbrokers can continue with thievery.
Leyland Chitlall Roopnaraine