kaieteur news May 04, 2017 News
Police Legal Adviser Justice Claudette Singh (ret’d) SC, says that the special prosecutors who were hired by government to prosecute cases involving the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) are “non-cooperative” and “not pulling their weight,” and this is the primary reason why many investigations are not being expeditiously addressed.
Justice Singh made this disclosure after an article in this newspaper yesterday stated that 30 files have been sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and the Police Legal Adviser, but none were returned.
The retired Judge said that she wanted to make abundantly clear that she has been having constant interaction with SOCU, and has been instructing that unit where needs be. Justice Singh showed this newspaper the evidence of the constant written communication she has been having with that unit.
She explained that it was not the duty of that entity to charge anyone suspected of malfeasance, as that decision rests with the special prosecutors “who have not covered themselves in a blaze of glory”.
She explained that of the twelve files that are engaging her attention, three have been completed and are in a state of readiness for prosecution. The remaining files are completed but, save for a bit of ‘fine tuning’ and some legal perusal, those files should be completed and ready for prosecution very soon.
However this depends on the availability of the six prosecutors – Michael Somersall, Hewley Griffith, Lawrence Harris, Patrice Henry, Compton Richardson, and Trenton Lake.
Justice Singh said apart from Henry, who has been playing his part in assisting the state to build its cases against officials that have been suspected of malfeasance, the other five lawyers oftentimes seem too busy to help.
She said that many times meetings are planned and commitments are given that they will attend, but at the appointed time only one or two of the prosecutors would be present.
Justice Singh said that she was so frustrated with the behaviour of the officials that she had reason to bring this to the attention of the Minister of State Joseph Harmon.
She explained that after bringing the issue to the attention of the State Minister, things seemed to have gotten better, but that was short lived, since they (prosecutors) resorted to their old ways of being lax in their approach to the many ongoing investigations.
Justice Singh is of the opinion that had all six lawyers been working at their optimum, many cases would have already been before the courts. She said that after she peruses the files sent by SOCU, she makes recommendations for additional statements and/or additional documents as required.
She noted that for the past three weeks she has not had a proper meeting with the prosecutors, and even the three files that are completed she still needs to brief them on the way forward before charges are laid.
The veteran legal luminary believes that the Minister of State or the Attorney General Basil Williams, SC, should become more active in ensuring these officials play a more meaningful role, so that cases can be brought before the courts more swiftly.
Further, Justice Singh said that SOCU, herself and the prosecutors had all agreed that this month will be the month when they would make major strides in their investigations.
She is still hopeful that this will prevail and informed that of the three files that are completed, one former senior public official will be hauled before the court sometime next week.
She explained that she was not at liberty to say who the official is, but did say the imminent charging of this individual stems from a major investigation that SOCU has been conducting.
Justice Singh said that the public can expect significant developments in the coming weeks with the expected ‘signing off’ of the other files engaging her attention.