The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions has returned the case file into Finance Minister, Dr Ashni Singh’s car accident on Republic night to the police.
The DPP’s office told this newspaper yesterday that the file was returned to the police on April 8th. There is no word on what the recommendation was. The DPP’s office has also remained mum on the question of whether a case like this should have even been sent by the police for review.
The police had stated that the file was to be sent to the DPP’s Office for review and to determine if any charges were to be filed. The police had stated that the file had been sent to the DPP as a result of “longstanding tradition” in relation to cases involving senior government officials.
A contrast between this position and the outlook of the Trinidadian police was recently pointed out. Trinidad’s Top Cop stated that the domestic violence investigation of former Tourism Minister, Chandresh Sharma, would not require any consultation with the DPP in the Twin-Island Republic because “the matter involving Minister Chandresh Sharma is a straightforward and simple investigation. There is nothing in the law which requires you must consult the DPP to prosecute a minister or someone else.”
The Trinidadian parallel has caused many in Guyana to wonder why government ministers are allowed a special procedure by the police when their counterparts in the Twin-Island Republic are having cases fast-tracked due to their high profile nature.
Home Affairs Minister, Clement Rohee had stated that he was not aware of any special protocol within the system that would determine that the police needed to follow certain procedures.
When Stabroek News contacted Police Super-intendent Eon Moore yesterday, he said that the file had not made its way through the system as yet.
The outcome of the police investigation has been awaited since the accident on February 23rd with many stating that the police have lagged in their probe because it was a minister who was involved. Head of the Guyana Bar Association, Ronald Burch-Smith was critical of the police investigation, stating that the police were severely deficient in their investigation into the incident.
Burch-Smith pointed out that in similar instances it was not unusual to have the case brought before the magistrate’s court a few days after the incident, adding that “the police are very good at deciding when they investigate,” and when they purposely move slowly.
On Republic night, Singh was involved in a car accident which left the driver of another car, Jageshwar Hira and his passenger, Parbattie Shivcharan, slightly injured. Attorney General Anil Nandlall represented Singh and released a statement saying that the finance minister was not intoxicated at the time of the accident and left the scene to seek medical attention.
“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.
The AG in a statement on February 27, said that “At or about 21:00 hours on 23rd February, 2014 at the junction of Garnett and Delph Streets, Campbell-ville, Greater Georgetown, the Honourable Minister of Finance was involved in a vehicular collision with a motor car.
“The Minister was taken to a city hospital for medical attention shortly after the accident. An associate of the Minister facilitated the driver of the vehicle and the lone passenger to be taken to a city hospital for medical treatment. “The matter was duly reported to the police and is being investigated.
Stabroek News learnt that the driver of the other vehicle and his passenger, were compensated by the minister, however they signed a non-disclosure agreement with Singh and his legal counsel, Nandlall.