Guyana: Former President freed of race-baiting charge

Guyana: Former President freed of race-baiting charge

Charges against former President Bharrat Jagdeo for alleged racial incitement uttered earlier this year in the lead-up to the May 11 General and Regional elections were yesterday dismissed by Justice Navendra Singh.

The charges were quashed due to the fact that particulars of the offense stated that the plaintiff did not disclose an offence which was listed in the law.

The case was initially filed by Attorney-at-law Christopher Ram in April of this year after it was reported that Jagdeo had uttered offensive racial remarks in March at Babu John, Port Mourant.

Jagdeo had reportedly told the Babu John event that “They shout about racism of the PPP, but they practice racism; the whisper campaigns. In the last elections they went to some of the Afro-Guyanese villages and beat some drums at 6 o’clock in the morning and say let us throw out these coolie people. Get up, go out and vote, throw out the coolie people. That’s the kind of language they use. Anybody from our party who uses that sort of language, we will kick them out; this is our approach.”

He was subsequently charged at the Whim Magistrate’s Court in Berbice by Magistrate Charilyn Artiga who said that he was not required to plea and after which he was sent on his own recognisance.

However, Jagdeo’s lawyer Mursalene Bacchus moved to the High Court to challenge the decision.

It was reported that if the case had been heard and the former President was convicted, a fine of $100,000 would have been imposed, coupled with two years’ imprisonment.

Additionally, the Representation of the People Act stipulates that any person found guilty would be barred from being a member of the National Assembly, local democratic organ or the holder of any constitutional or statutory office.

Former Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs Anil Nandlall in his capacity as one of Jagdeo’s legal counsel had earlier dubbed the charge a “dubious” one.

“I resolutely maintain that the charges are completely without merit, malicious and concocted, and further that we will spare no effort in ensuring that justice is done,” he said

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