Guyana: Fraud charges dismissed against President Ali

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Guyana: Fraud charges dismissed against President Ali
Irfaan Ali, Guyana's new president

(NEWS ROOM GUYANA) — Chief Magistrate Ann McLennan moments ago dismissed the 19 fraud charges against President Irfaan Ali which were filed under the David Granger administration over the sale of state lands in “Pradoville 2”.

The matter was previously called before the Chief Magistrate at the Georgetown Magistrates’ Court on August 6, 2020, where Ali’s attorney Devindra Kissoon made an application for the charges to be dismissed on the basis that the president is immune from suit as per Article 182 of the Constitution.

The Chief Magistrate had previously adjourned the matter to October 26, 2020, but Kissoon wrote again to various parties including the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), and spoke with the counsel of the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) renewing his application that the charges be dismissed since Article 182(2) of the Constitution mandates that no criminal proceedings shall be continued against a sitting President in respect of any done by him in his private capacity.

Attorney Kissoon has also argued in his letter that it was not in the public interest to prosecute a sitting President and to do so would violate the prosecutors code of conduct adopted in 2018.

Ali, through his attorney, has always maintained that not only do the 19 charges levelled against him not amount to an offence known to law, but even if proven, could not lead to a conviction.

The Chief Magistrate called the matter forward Friday, where prosecutor Patrice Henry, in response to Kissoon’s communication, advised the Court that SOCU has taken a decision that it was not in the public interest to prosecute a sitting President and to so do would violate Article 182(2) of the constitution.

The Chief Magistrate ultimately ruled in Ali’s favour wholly discontinuing all charges against him.

In an invited comment from the President, he emphatically stated that he was very grateful to his attorney Kissoon who stood by side from time investigations commenced to the proceedings in the Magistrate’s Court where Kissoon quickly secured his release on his own recognisance, to tirelessly representing his interests in the High Court and the Court of Appeal.

Kissoon had successfully obtained successive stays of the Magistrate’s Court proceedings pending the hearing of those civil matters, giving Ali room to campaign and contest the national elections, eventually resulting in him being elected President.

The Court of Appeal was scheduled to rule on an appeal filed by him Friday at 2.30 pm, but it unclear whether those proceedings will proceed in light of the dismissal.

President Ali also expressed gratitude to the Chief Magistrate for her swift and decisive action, and to the members of the judiciary who allowed him an opportunity to be fairly heard.

Finally, he thanked all of his supporters for their unyielding belief in his innocence and characterized the charges as “politically motivated and baseless”, amounting to nothing more than a transparent and poorly orchestrated and failed attempt to prevent him from ascending to the office of the President.

He expressed the hope that with the dismissal of the charges, the path would now be clear for him and the PPP Government to rapidly develop and unite Guyana for the benefit of all Guyanese.

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