Burke’s charges are for extortion not because he’s a gov’t critic- Nandlall

Rickford Burke was recently served with a defendant summons at his New York residence, two years after two wanted bulletins were issued for him.

As a result, the Guyana Police Force and by extension, the government, has come in for heavy criticism from the main opposition party, who alleged that it is a move to silence Burke, a staunch critic of the People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPP/C) government.

But Attorney General, Anil Nandlall, SC, deems these assertions falsehoods.

“Nobody is charging Burke for being a critic. We have many critics against the government.

“Burke is being charged for committing a criminal offence – extortion,” Nandlall clarified.

In September 2022, the Police said Burke was wanted for “conspiracy to commit a felony to wit publication of defamatory libel in order to extort money.”

Burke was implicated by two reporters – Gary Eleazar and Alex Wayne – who were arrested during a sting operation.

The reporters were interviewed by detectives and they detailed the plan to extort a businessman in exchange for having an article removed from Guyana News Network, GNN, an online outfit known to carry libellous and slanderous articles against individuals. The reporters implicated Burke as the person behind GNN.


Another falsehood the AG sought to dismantle was the claim that the summons was not properly served on Burke in New York and it constitutes a descent into dictatorship.

“Burke is accused and charged with two serious criminal offences and now served summons to appear in court so he can defend himself.

“If the trial went on without him being served and denied an opportunity to defend himself and have a fair trial, those would constitute a miscarriage of justice and can lend to the allegation of authoritarianism,” the Attorney General reasoned.

“Here the State is bending backwards to ensure that the defendant is made aware of the charges and the proceedings and notified of his court date so that he can make himself present either personally or through representative to ensure his interest is protected,” he added.

Nandlall further reasoned that none of the arguments put forward points to any express provision in law that prohibits the service of the summons outside of Guyana.

“Has an offence been committed within the jurisdiction within Guyana? If yes, then the Guyana Court has jurisdiction to try the offence.

“If the court has jurisdiction to try the offence, then wherever the defendant is, the court has the power to bring the defendant before it.”

Nandlall further noted that the offences for which Burke was served with two summons are indictable offences and a reliance on the Summary Jurisdiction Magistrate Act to demonstrate that it was wrongly done is not accurate.

The law that applies is the Criminal Law Procedure Act, specifically Chapter 10:01.

And it reads: “48. Every magistrate may issue a summons or warrant as hereinafter mentioned to compel the appearance of an accused person before him for the purpose of preliminary inquiry, in any of the following cases:

“(a) if the person is accused of having committed in any place whatever an indictable offence triable in Guyana, and 1s, or is suspected to be, within the limits in which the magistrate has jurisdiction, or resides or is suspected to reside within those limits; or

“(b) if he, wherever he may be, is accused of having committed an indictable offence within those limits, or on any journey during any part of which he has passed through them; or

“(c) if he is alleged to have anywhere unlawfully received property which was so unlawfully obtained within those limits as to render him liable for an indictable offence.”

This, according to Nandlall, is the law that applies as he debunked the arguments, both legal and layman, that reprimands the move.

“You can’t commit an offence against the laws of Guyana and think the law would be so impotent that we can’t try you.

“That you can just stay out the country… the arms of the law are very long, the process may be a slow one but it is a sure one,” Nandlall contended.