By PETER RICHARDS
GEORGETOWN, Guyana – A High Court judge Monday halted the trial of former finance minister Dr. Ashni Singh and former Government official Winston Brassington, in the lower courts after granting a stay of proceedings, attorney Anil Nandlall has said.
“I am pleased to announce that the judge in a very long written decision granted a stay of proceedings in respect of the criminal charges pending before the Honourable Chief Magistrate in relation to (Winston) Brassington and Ashni Singh until the hearing and determination of the challenge which we have filed which is pending before the Chief Justice,” Nandlall told reporters.
Justice Franklin Holder granted the stay on the Magistrates’ Court process, but it will only remain in effect until the substantial fixed date application is heard and determined.
Singh and the former chief executive officer of the National Industrial and Commercial Investment Limited (NICIL), were jointly charged by the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) following investigations into the sale of three plots of state land. They are accused of illegally selling the land for more than GUY$900 million.
Chief Justice Roxane George-Wiltshire is on Friday due to begin hearing the substantive matter concerning the constitutionality of the three joint charges.
Nandlall said that the reason offered by the judge in granting the stay “was that the integrity of the legal process has to be protected. The rationale is, obviously, that you can’t have an inferior court proceeding to hear and determine charges when their validity have been challenged in the High Court and those proceedings are pending before the Chief Justice.”
Solicitor General Kim Kyte said Justice Holder granted the stay with the reasoning that he was protecting the judicial process.
“He doesn’t want the case in the Magistrates Court to be ongoing while Justice George is determining the fix date application,” she said, adding that it is her position that the fixed date application has no realistic prospect of success.
“The DPP was within her power to institute the charge and they cannot establish that she acted in bad faith or that the charge is bad in law. We have argued extensively that the charge is very good common law charge,” she said.