The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Shalimar Ali-Hack has advised that no charges be laid against Attorney General Anil Nandlall for the threatening remarks he made against the Kaieteur News owner and staff as the police file sent to her contains no such evidence.
Ali-Hack made her advice public yesterday shortly after the file was returned to the police. She had received the file on November 18. Concerns had been raised by Kaieteur News owner Glenn Lall as to the delay in bringing the matter to finality. The DPP’s lengthy review of the file were among some aspects of the case that were being questioned.
Reacting to the DPP’s position, Lall’s lawyer Christopher Ram yesterday said that he is not surprised at theoutcome of the case. “Nothing she does surprises me,” he told Stabroek News before adding that he will have to meet with his client for instructions on the way forward.
Ram had also expressed concerns that Nandlall would not be questioned by the police. Stabroek News despite numerous efforts has been unable to ascertain whether the AG was ever questioned by investigators.
In a two-page press release issued yesterday, the DPP’s Chambers said that Ali-Hack wished to advise that the police file in relation to the “private” telephone conversation between the Attorney-General and Minister of Legal Affairs and his personal friend Leonard Gildarie has been returned to the Guyana Police Force.
The release said the subject of the investigation is an alleged recording of a conversation between the two and noted that based on the evidence contained in the police file the alleged recording was not between the AG and Lall. Lall is the person who made an official complaint to the police about the alleged threats. He had gone to the police in the company of his lawyer on October 27, and in addition to the complaint he also handed over a copy of the recorded conversation.
The DPP according to the release explained that the offence created in Section 141 (a) Chapter 8:02 is in relation to the speaker (Nandlall) using threatening language with intent to provoke anyone else to commit a breach of the peace, that is, provoking another person to do so. The threatening language must be such as is likely to provoke a breach of the peace. For the threatening language to result in provocation, the threat must be directly communicated to the person to whom it concerns, that is, in his presence and hearing. There is no evidence of this contained in the police file, the DPP said. Nandlall had never disputed that he was the person speaking to Gildarie in the conversation but has stressed that it was a private conversation which was manipulated and taken out of context.
Further, the DPP press release said that the offence created in Section 141 (b) Chapter 8:02 is in relation to the person using abusive, insulting, obscene or profane language to the annoyance of another, that is, such language is used directly to the other person in his presence and annoys him. There is no evidence of this, in the file, the release stated.
The alleged recording of a telephone conversation between the Attorney-General and the Minister of Legal Affairs and Gildarie, does not fall under Section 141 (a) or (b) Chapter 8:02, it was stated by the DPP’s Chambers. Ram when told of the Sections cited and the position taken by the DPP, said that it appears that “she has taken an extremely narrow view”. He said that no attention was given to what could arise from the alleged offence.
“In these circumstances the communication to Mr Gildarie does not provide an evidential basis which can support the institution of criminal proceedings,” the release stressed before going on to provide details on when the file was received. The release went on to say that the police file in the matter of Khurshid Sattaur vs Glen Lall for the offence of alleged abusive language and threat was received by the Chambers on October 14, 2014 and was dispatched to the GPF on November 11, 2014.
“The DPP takes this opportunity to reiterate that she continues to maintain the integrity of the DPP’s Chambers by giving legal advice according to the statements in the police files and the Laws of Guyana and this is done free of race, religion and political affiliation,” the release stressed.
In the recording, Nandlall is heard saying that Lall “feels that he is above the law” and has resorted to using the daily newspaper “as a weapon.” Subsequently, Nandlall in a meeting with the professional staff of the Advice, Litigation and Drafting departments and members of the senior management of the Ministry of Legal Affairs said that he was unaware of any planned violent attack against the newspaper or any reporter. He described the released conversation as an “unexpected betrayal” and apologized for any embarrassment it had caused.
In the 19-minute conversation which was laced with profane language Nandlall was heard saying to Gildarie “Everybody doesn’t have a newspaper to use as a weapon.” He added, “I told Adam [Adam Harris, Kaieteur News editor], I said, ‘Adam, people got weapons, right. They ain’t got newspaper to use as a weapon; they got weapons. And when you continue to attack people like that and they have no way of responding they will just walk with they weapon into that same [expletive] Saffon Street office and wha’ come shall do.’”
He added: “And innocent…” before changing course and continuing, “Peter will have to pay for [expletive] Paul in that way. I tell you, honestly, man to man that will happen soon.” He further advised Gildarie to “get out of deh,” the quicker, the better.
Nandlall has maintained that he is unaware of any planned violent attacks on the newspaper.
Instead of dealing with the content of the recording the Ramotar administration chose to focus on how the recording was made. President Donald Ramotar told reporters that it was a private conversation which was recorded illegally. Gildarie and the management of Kaieteur News have firmly said that Nandlall was aware that the conversation was being recorded.
The government has said that a copy of the conversation will be sent abroad to be authenticated. It is unclear whether it has since been done.
During the conversation, Nandlall could also be heard making sexual references to a female reporter and of a supposed arrangement between Lall’s wife, Bhena and President Ramotar with respect to an ongoing court case involving herself and husband.
Lawyers, women rights activists, other members of civil society and the international press have all called for Nandlall to be removed from office in the light of the phone conversation.