The file on Finance Minister, Dr Ashni Singh’s car accident has been sent by the police to the Director of Public Prosecu-tions (DPP) for advice in line with “longstanding tradition” but the Trinidad Top Cop who is now probing an allegation against a minister on the Twin-Island Republic says such matters require no consulting with the DPP.
Following the accident on Republic night February 23, critics have lambasted the administration and the police force for the laid back approach to determining whether there was any criminal wrongdoing.
Among the critics, the Head of the Guyana Bar Association, Ronald Burch-Smith, in an invited comment to Stabroek News stated that there was a severe failure in how the police investigated Singh’s matter considering the other two persons involved in the accident reported that they believed the minister was under the influence of alcohol at the time.
He had stated that while the law allows for 24 hours to report an accident the police were aware that the finance minister was involved and they were well in their realm of responsibility to locate the minister and administer a breathalyser test. Burch-Smith had told Stabroek News that the fact remains the finance minister is a recognizable figure and the police would have no issues finding him at his home or elsewhere if he sought medical attention.
He had stated that weeks after the accident occurred the police were yet to release any findings, pointing out that similar cases could result in parties being brought before the magistrate’s court a few days after an accident and investigation. Burch-Smith had stated that “the police are very good at deciding when they investigate” and when they purposefully slow the process.
He said part of the larger issue in Guyana was that “people of influence are not held accountable when they (allegedly) break the law” and the slow processing of the investigation showcased this lapse.
Meanwhile in Trinidad and Tobago, the police say they will be fast tracking an assault complaint filed against the Tourism Mini-ster, Chandresh Sharma by his former girlfriend Sacha Singh on March 21. The alleged incident occurred on March 12.
The Trinidad Express is also reporting that acting Police Commissioner Stephen Williams will not be seeking advice from the DPP. He instead stated that “the matter involving Minister Chandresh Sharma is a straight-forward and simple investigation. There is nothing in law which requires you must consult the DPP to prosecute a minister or someone else.”
He added “it’s just a matter of completing the investigation and then making a determination on whether the evidence is crystal clear.”
Williams said should there be sufficient evidence then the next step will involve “proceeding to prosecute” or if advice is needed, the DPP will be sought.
That approach is different from that by the Guyana Police Force. According to Crime Chief, Seelall Persaud, the police force would operate using “longstanding traditions” in cases involving high ranking government officials. He had said that the DPP would be consulted for advice when cases involved the most senior government officials and members of the Joint Services, including members of the police force. He said this had been the precedent.
On Republic night Singh was involved in a car accident which resulted in minor injuries to two persons in another vehicle. He allegedly fled the scene failing to render assistance. Attorney General Anil Nandall said Singh left the scene to seek medical treatment. Nandlall has since reached a deal on behalf of Singh with the two occupants of the other car: Jageshwar Hira and Parbattie Shivcharan.
“I was coming down this street [west on Garnett Street, Campbellville] and this vehicle was coming out of this road [Delph Avenue] and just jump the major road, slam into me sending we into that gutter… The man come out then we see is the finance minister but he ain’t even offer help. He just jump into another vehicle and drive off leaving we hay …,” Hira had told Stabroek News at the scene.