Richard Bickram, the UNC activist who is the key State witness in voter padding cases, has also implicated certain persons in the Elections and Boundaries Commission in the plot which he said was organised and conducted by the former governing party to corrupt the 2000 general elections.
Again we must express our amazement at the account which this witness in hiding has given to Newsday, part of which deals with the apparent cooperation in the scam of some individuals employed by the ECB. And again we must insist on the right of the people, particularly the electorate, to know the truth about these disturbing allegations.
The point is, if Bickram's account is factual, then the agency responsible for conducting elections in our country has been fatally compromised which raises fresh questions about the fitness of the EBC to preside over the coming electoral contest. But how will we determine the truth?
Perhaps the most unbelievable aspect of this entire controversy is the fact that we may never really know. And, horribly enough, the reason for this is the apparent inaction and unconcern of the institutions through which such truth must be established.
In our view, it was far more vital to discover the facts about voter-padding allegations than about problems in revising the voters' list. The first was a crime, a deliberate attempt to subvert the integrity of the electoral process, to fraudulently place in power a particular party and thus undermine the country's democracy.
This was an intolerable evil that should have been exposed, rooted out and dealt with harshly. The second concerned the internal difficulties and shortcomings experienced by the Commission in its effort to upgrade the list, a matter which became the subject of the Deyalsingh Commission of Inquiry. Unfortunately, the voter-padding issue was declared out of bounds to the Inquiry because of the impending court cases.
But what have become of these court matters and, more urgently, what has been done with the abundance of evidence which Bickram said he turned over to the PNM and the Police? The witness said he was personally involved in the UNC plan to transfer thousands of votes from safe to marginal seats; that it was approved by certain UNC officials; that some ministers agreed with it; and that certain persons in the EBC were accepting the transfer forms.
Bickram said he handed over all the documents relating to the scam. If all this, including his personal testimony, was given to the police, what have they been doing over the last 20 months? How much more time do they need to complete their investigations? Who else do they need to interview? What recommendations have they made to the DPP for charges to be laid?
It is disturbing to think that, having a witness such as Bickram, providing first hand, eye-witness evidence, intimate details of the scam he said was devised to corrupt the 2000 elections, the Police are still unable to lay serious charges. In fact, Bickram, languishing in safe houses on Caribbean islands and fearful for his life, has become so frustrated at the non-action of the authorities, so upset over their increasing disregard for his plight that he may decide not to testify in any cases arising out of the evidence he has provided.
This situation, in our view, is quite ridiculous. Bickram's story, it seems to us, has the ring of truth. The witness has virtually put his life on the line to testify for the State. Yet, after 20 months, it seems that nothing will ever come of all this. And, worst of all, his shocking story will not be tested in court and the people will not know the full and incontrovertible truth.
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