Attorney-at-Law Murseline Bacchus (S/N November 27), to defend Attorney General, Anil Nandlall, against irresistible inferences of illegality from his infamous telephone conversation with Kaieteur News (KN) senior reporter, Mr. Leonard Gildarie, takes us back to a case 184 years ago in feudal England.
Mr. Bacchus was purportedly responding to a report in the Kaieteur News of Thursday November 6, 2014, under the caption “The world is watching police investigation – APNU”.
In the article, Mr. Joseph Harmon, an Opposition frontbencher and himself an attorney-at-law, raised concerns about the capacity and integrity of the authorities to undertake an independent investigation into the telephone conversation in which Mr. Nandlall objectified women; solicited for sexual purposes, on behalf of an uncle, a reporter of the newspaper; confessed to restraining the same uncle from taking serious criminal action against the newspaper proprietor; admitted to corruption involving public funds, drew attention to the increased activity against KN following the accusation by KN’s proprietor that his vehicle (Nandlall) was engaged in taking photographs of the newspaper building; declared knowledge of [an] impending armed attack[s] against the newspaper and its staff, and referred to a deal involving the President with the proprietor’s wife over a tax evasion matter.
This was, of course, the same conversation in which Nandlall boasted of his blood descent from the ancient Hindu warrior caste, Kshatriya, and encouraged Mr. Gildarie to leave his current employer and join the “elitist’ press unit being set up by the Government.
Rather than expressing an informed opinion on these several acknowledged instances of criminal behaviour and evidence of grave professional misconduct by the Leader of the Bar of which he is a member, Mr. Bacchus chose to expound extensively on the use of the word “threat”, not by Mr. Harmon but by the editorial writer in this final paragraph of the article: “The threats by the Attorney General have brought back memories of the shocking August 8, 2006 slaughter of five pressmen, who were gunned down, execution-style, by armed invaders at the Eccles printery of the Kaieteur News.”
As the attorney for the Kaieteur News trio in this matter, I would welcome an honest and professional exchange on all the issues involved, including the baseless allegation of wire-tapping by Mr. Glenn Lall. Unfortunately, Mr. Bacchus’s voyage into irrelevance does not allow for any meaningful response.
Not the worst of his excursions is that he volunteered his knowledge about the law on arrest which was certainly not addressed in the article that he claims moved him to write his letter. That issue only gained prominence following the Precautionary Measures issued by the Inter American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) in reference to Mr. Gildarie, one of the Kaieteur News trio.
But these are not my only concerns. If a senior lawyer in Guyana honestly believes that the admission of criminal behaviour or ethical misconduct by the Leader of the Guyana Bar has to be resolved by reference to an English case decided 184 years ago or some law handed down by the British, then we have truly reached the point, supposed by Dickens and the law as applied in Guyana, is indeed an ass.
Nandlall is no ordinary citizen: he is the principal legal advisor to the Government of Guyana and boasts about his guardianship of the Constitution. With Mr. Bacchus’ criminal experience, he must be aware of Mr. Nandlall’s admitted knowledge of some intended crimes and misdemeanours. And with his wider knowledge of the law, Mr. Bacchus must be aware that Article 32 of the Constitution imposes a duty on “the State, the society and every citizen to combat and prevent crime and other violations of the law and to take care and to protect public property.”
Mr. Bacchus assures readers that he holds no brief for Anil Nandlall and nobly, but without much conviction, that his letter is driven by a sense of “duty to the public”. Yet all that his knowledge and sense of duty allow him to find in Nandlall’s shameful telephone conversation is language that “leaves much to be desired.”
Given its contents and timing, the same can be said of Mr. Bacchus’ letter, many times over.