O'Lall quizzed on notes of Audit exercise

Guyana Chronicle
December 2, 1999

THE hearing of the Esther Perreira elections petition continued before Justice Claudette Singh yesterday with the cross-examination of the witness Joseph O'Lall.

O'Lall, a member of the PPP/C Observer Team, which monitored the CARICOM Audit exercise on behalf of his party, had testified that he had taken notes which were used in the compilation of the report by Dr Leslie Ramsammy.

On the resumption yesterday, Senior Counsel Peter Britton for the petitioner sought to cross-examine O'Lall on his notes with the objective of showing that the witness' notes had alluded to irregularities.

Mr O'Lall had tendered his notes as exhibits after Counsel on the other side had questioned the credibility of the report by the PPP/C Observer Team.

Mr Britton enquired from the witness whether he had in fact taken notes of the Audit proceedings and had faithfully recorded what the Audit team had said in relation to its findings during the examination and count.

Witness answered in the affirmative.

In answer to further questions, Mr O'Lall admitted that his notes from the Audit exercise had disclosed that some Presiding Officers had discarded the early instructions by the Elections Commission and had embarked on an exercise of their own.

Witness also admitted that in certain instances, Statements of Poll and Voter Identification cards were found in the ballot boxes during the Audit exercise. These, he said, should have been handed to the Deputy Returning Officers in the respective districts.

He also agreed that his notes showed that there were times when the ballots and ID Cards found in the sealed ballot boxes did not tally.

Witness also agreed that the Audit team had found that a number of SOPs (Statements of Poll) recovered from the boxes were not original, but were photo copies.

The witness was not in a position to say what happened to the originals, he told Britton.

Witness went on to state that his notes also showed that some boxes did not contain any counterfoils.

Also Voter ID card bags were found in the ballot boxes without padlocks.

There were instances when the keys for the padlocks could not be located. Rather than wasting time, the CAC (CARICOM Audit Commission) decided to cut the padlocks.

The witness O'Lall, who has given evidence about finding ballot boxes with and without ID Cards and other elections materials, admitted that that exercise taken by itself would show a disparity in the ballots and the ID Cards.

However, Dr Leslie Ramsammy who had testified earlier had reported that ID cards which were not found in the ballot boxes were found elsewhere.

Ramsammy had said that the Presiding Officers ought not to have placed the ID cards and SOPs in the ballot boxes but should have handed them to the Deputy Returning Officers.

Ramsammy had said that when all the cards were collected, in most cases the reconciliation with the ballots was perfect.

According to Ramsammy, "In most cases, the reconciliation is perfect."

Mr O'Lall, who is still in the witness box, will be further cross-examined when the hearing continues today. (GEORGE BARCLAY)

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