Former PPP/C Attorney General Bernard De Santos SC passed away yesterday at the age of 80.
De Santos became attorney general following the historic 1992 general elections and served until 1997.
In a statement, President David Granger this morning extended condolences.
This evening, the Bar Council of the Guyana Bar Association issued the following statement:
“The legal profession mourns the loss of one of its stalwarts, Bernard Celestino De Santos S.C.
“Mr. De Santos was one of the leading Senior Counsel in the country and, while he was an experienced and knowledgeable lawyer in every field of practice, his specialty was in the field of criminal law, and more especially in jury trials of the most serious offences.
“He was also an expert at cross examination and could often be seen in the courtroom skillfully and patiently breaking down the evidence of witnesses opposing his clients’ cases
“Mr. De Santos was also a gifted raconteur and was frequently at the centre of a group of lawyers on the corridors of the Court as he regaled them with stories of cases and judges from days gone by.
“He was kind and patient with younger lawyers and he mentored many junior lawyers who were new to intricacies of the profession.
“Mr. De Santos’s passing leaves a vacuum in the profession and he will be sorely missed.
“The Bar Council extends its deepest condolences to the family of Mr. Bernard De Santos.”
On his Facebook page former Attorney General Anil Nandlall posted the following tribute to De Santos.
“I awoke this morning to the tragic news that Bernard Celestino De Santos S.C. has departed this world. That we have lost a towering giant who has distinguished himself at both the criminal and civil Bar over the last 40 years is to merely state a truism.
“Like every one of those of his pre-eminent ilk, his was a style unique to him and carefully chiselled to coincide with his effervescent personality: it was an admixture of intellect, charm , elegance and smooth, but emphatic aggression when necessary. This was not only reflected in the courtroom but in his writings and speeches in the National Assembly where he served from 1992 to 2011.
“He was Cheddi Jagan’s first Attorney General after the historic the 5th October, 1992, electoral victory. In difficult times, with meagre resources, he served that office with distinction and was the Chairman of the first Constitutional Reform Commission appointed during those years.
“”Santas” as he was colloquially called in rural Guyana from which I come, was already a household name in those communities when I was a mere toddler. I was always in a state of awe at the reverence which that name provoked in the villages whenever court matters are the subject of discourse. Therefore, my close association with him when I entered the legal profession was a natural phenomenon.
“He became a mentor, a political comrade and mostly importantly, a close friend. We would sometimes “gaff” for hours about everything under the sun. Everyone who knows him would know that his romanticism with life and its many creations was indeed legendary. I am consoled by the fact that I know that he lived life to its fullest, enjoying most that it offers.
“Notwithstanding all that he achieved, he remained deeply rooted to his Plaisance working class upbringing. He spent an entire career serving the poor and the working people as a lawyer. I spent many years alongside him in the Magistrates Court of East Coast , East Bank and West Coast Demerara. I learnt greatly from the feet of a master.
“Only last Thursday, I enquired from his junior of his state of health and only a few weeks ago, he gifted me a red tie which he insisted that I wear when Parliament resumes. I certainly am privileged to have known such a giant and will surely miss him.
“Rest in peace Celestino !!”