Attorney Nigel Hughes has accused the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) of making a plea-bargain deal with a man who admitted to participating in the Lusignan, Bartica and Lindo Creek massacres, in which 33 people were killed in total, allowing him to go free without a single charge.
“Perhaps the people of Lusignan may wish to inquire of the Attorney General [Anil Nandlall] and the DPP [Shalimar Ali-Hack], why the State, which is responsible for protecting and serving them, would let a self-confessed murderer of 33 citizens go free without a single charge. No other person in the history of this country has enjoyed such a pardon,” Hughes, breaking his silence on a series of allegations levelled against him by the ruling PPP, said in a statement yesterday.
Hughes noted that several public statements have been made by the PPP in relation to his representation of one of the accused in the Lusignan massacre trial as well as his relationship with the jury foreman, which is now the subject of an appeal filed by the DPP over the acquittal of the accused at the end of the trial.
Hughes stated that he did not make any public statement on the matter as the DPP has appealed the acquittals and has made the issue of his prior representation of the foreman a central issue in the matter. “In normal circumstances and in countries which pay some regard to the issue of no public comment on matters which are sub judice, comment by those who hold offices of significant legal responsibility and the publication of their comments on matters which are sub judice, are avoided and frowned on,” he explained.
However, Hughes, saying he would make reference to matters which are already in the public domain, noted that the PPP has made particular appeal to the victims of the massacre, contending that he has been responsible for the release and discharge of those persons who are responsible for the mass murders.
Hughes said the people of Lusignan and Guyana appear not to have been made aware that Dwane Williams, who admitted and confessed to being with Rondell ‘Fineman’ Rawlins and participating in the three massacres “was not and will not be prosecuted by the State for any of these 33 murders” he participated in. “He has been granted a free pass by the State for (allegedly) killing not only the people of Lusignan but those in Bartica and Lindo Creek,” he added.
According to Hughes, under oath during his testimony, Williams said: “Me and Fineman were tight. I was with him in Luisignan, Bartica and Lindo Creek. Lusignan 11 people were killed, Bartica 12 people were killed and Lindo Creek 10 people were kill; 33 people were killed when I was with Fineman and I am not facing a single charge.”
The lawyer said that these words were recorded by the trial judge Justice Navindra Singh and are contained in the appeal record. Wiliams, he further said, was the state’s sole eyewitness and who was jointly charged with the Lusignan murders.
“A mere week before the commencement of the Luisignan trial Mr Williams had the charges of murder against him mysteriously dropped by the State and he was released,” he stated.
Last year, Justice Singh had banned the jury foreman in the Lusignan massacre trial, Vernon Griffith after he had not disclosed that he had a lawyer-client relationship with Hughes, who had represented one of the two accused who were subsequently found not guilty. The trial had concluded on August 2 with James Anthony Hyles and Mark Royden Williams both being found not guilty of the murders of the 11 persons killed in the 2008 massacre.
The DPP has filed the appeal stating that Hughes, who represented Hyles, failed to disclose to the trial judge that he had represented the foreman in a civil case for a period of six years starting in 2002. The DPP said Griffith also failed to disclose their relationship, which it says constitutes a “material irregularity.”
Hughes informed that Griffith, who he represented in a civil action, which concluded in 2008, was a member of the PPP and was represented by Nandlall in 2011 in an action that he appeared against him (the foreman).
“The same foreman, as part of his party duties in 2012 participated in a public picketing exercise against me at the Supreme Court during the hearings of the Linden Commission of Inquiry. He was there along with senior members of the PPP… At the time of the Lusignan Trial, any relationship which existed between the foreman and myself could best be described as hostile. There was nothing to disclose,” he said.
The lawyer questioned if he should have made the disclosure that Griffith was a PPP member and that the AG had represented him two years prior to the trial when he appeared against him in the same case. “Is this the non-disclosure they are speaking about?”
Hughes also referred to a recent editorial in the Guyana Chronicle, which he said made several libellous allegations against him, including the claim that he received a huge payment from the families of the victims of the Linden shooting in 2012 as legal or other fees.
“From the outset I made it clear to the people of Linden that my services were given to them pro bono without any conditions,” he, however, emphasised.
Hughes said that at no time was any monies received from any of the victims by him or his firm, while adding that he used his personal money to procure the services of a pathologist and a ballistic expert. “I personally expended in excess of US$25,000 financing the professional services, travel and accommodation of the pathologist Professor Hubert Daisley from Trinidad and the ballistics expert Dr Mark Robinson from the UK. The cost of travel for the family members of the deceased to travel to Georgetown along with their overnight accommodation in Georgetown when they attended the post-mortem examination were also donated by me,” he added in his statement.