As protocol is different when senior government officials are involved in traffic matters, the Guyana Police Force will now mull from a list of options the way forward as it relates to Finance Minister Dr. Ashni Singh’s automobile crash on Sunday.
Crime Chief Seelall Persaud yesterday said that cases involving the most senior government officials and every member of the Joint Services, including members of the police force, are sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) for advice. “Once they are involved in matters… it goes and all senior government officials goes. Yes,” he said.
Singh appeared to be under the influence of alcohol at the time of the accident but was not given a breathalyser test. He also left the scene without rendering assistance to two persons from the other vehicle who were slightly injured in the accident.
Questioned why senior government officials were not treated like ordinary citizens and why their files have to be sent to the DPP, Persaud said, “I have been following longstanding traditions and we have never readdressed it”.
Asked further if by doing this the police are trying to stay away from being held responsible for laying the charges, he responded, “I don’t think so at all.
It is just that there is precedence in dealing with these matters and I think there is something in the standing orders as well. When we speak about reporting incidents involving certain people…we have never revisited it, so it will take a little bit of mind work to go through the issues and to see whether it needs to be changed or it needs to remain or whatever the case may be.”
However, Persaud said that he was not attached to the Traffic Department and could not specifically comment on the Singh case.
He also informed that he did not know if a statement was taken from the Finance Minister on the accident.
”I don’t know exactly but I rather suspect that the same procedure the police will adopt like every other accident—meaning that we would investigate and if the matter needs to be sent to the DPP for advice, we do that. If [a] decision can be taken within the force then we take that,” he added.
Attorney General Anil Nandlall is representing the Finance Minister and has entered discussions with the two victims on settling their bills.
Nandlall met this week with the occupants of the other vehicle involved in the crash at Garnett Street and Delph Avenue, driver Jageshwar Hira and passenger Parbattie Shivcharan at the Attorney General’s office.
This has raised eyebrows as Nandlall is acting in his private capacity and not as AG. Nandlall told Stabroek News that his meeting with Hira and Shivcharan was confidential and that he could not disclose the contents.
Hira however told Stabroek News that he and Shivcharan met Nandlall without any counsel of their own.
He said that “the attorney general tell us that they are working on a settlement, but he is already saying that they are working on a settlement well below a million dollars.”
He stated that he and Shivcharan are requesting $3 million in damages each as well as for all medical expenses to be paid and the car involved in the crash to be replaced.
A family member of Hira told Stabroek News yesterday that they will meet with Nandlall again on Monday to continue negotiations on a settlement.