Witness to present original erratum

By George Barclay
Guyana Chronicle
May 31, 2000

THE judge hearing the Esther Perreira Petition challenging the validity of the 1997 General Elections, yesterday ruled that her Court did not have jurisdiction to subpoena Prime Minister Keith Mitchell and CARICOM Secretary General Edwin Carrington to testify in the erratum issue.

But Justice Claudette Singh, using her inherent discretion in an effort to have the controversy resolved, reopened the case and granted Senior Counsel Mr Ralph Ramkarran leave to call any witness that he thinks would be best suited to serve his purpose.

Delivering her ruling Justice Claudette Singh said:-

"Having heard the application of Senior Counsel and response by Mr Ralph Trotman, counsel for the petitioner and Senior Counsel McKay for Mr Hoyte, I have carefully considered all the authorities cited.

"From the authorities cited I agree with Senior Counsel McKay that the evidence in issue does not arise `ex improviso' (a case where they were not aware of the issues) and strictly speaking, under the circumstances this Court ought not to allow the reopening of the case.

"However, since it is possible that the proposed witness may give evidence of some materiality and the petitioner and other respondents would not be unduly prejudiced since they would have the right to cross-examination.

"On the exercise of my inherent jurisdiction I would reopen the case and give the applicant an opportunity to lead further evidence on the issue.

"I emphasise however that since the matter does not arise `ex improviso' any proposed witness must be called by you (counsel for the applicant) and not by the Court," the judge declared.

At this stage, Mr Ramkarran indicated that he would seek to get the witness Joseph Farrier to testify.

Senior Counsel Mr Peter Britton, for the Petitioner, said that while he was not criticising the ruling, he was alarmed since Mr Farrier had already given evidence in the matter.

The hearing continues today

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