By LAMECH JOHNSON
Tribune Staff Reporter
MORE than a month after he was hauled before a magistrate in handcuffs on allegations of voter fraud, an Eleuthera native had the charge withdrawn against him yesterday.
Andrew Johnson, 57, a long-serving Water and Sewerage Corporation employee, reappeared before Magistrate Samuel McKinney after his initial April 25 and May 1 trial dates were respectively adjourned due to the absence of the prosecution witnesses in his case and the Crown’s request to take instructions from the attorney general concerning the charge of making a false declaration, which was made contrary to Section 94(a) of the Parliamentary Elections Act, Chapter 7.
When the matter was called yesterday morning, notably absent was Parliamentary Commissioner Sherlyn Hall, one of six witnesses who was to give evidence in the trial.
Vernal Collie, of the Office of the Attorney General, told Magistrate McKinney yesterday: “After taking instructions from the attorney general, the Crown is withdrawing the charge pursuant to section 230 (2)(b)(ii) of the Criminal Procedure Code.”
Johnson’s lawyer, Philip Hilton, questioned why a full acquittal provision of the CPC was not being applied.
The magistrate said it was a matter for the Crown which can bring the matter back if it desired to, but at the moment his client was being cleared.
Mr Hilton also questioned if the move would bar Johnson from being able to vote on May 10.
However, Mr Collie said it would not.
“We’ve withdrawn the matter against him. He’s free to exercise his right (to vote),” Mr Collie added.
It was alleged that Johnson, between February 27 and February 28, while at Harbour Island and under oath, made a statement before Revising Officer Lucy Butler for the purpose of registering to vote knowing the statement to be false.
The section under which Johnson was charged notes that “any person who - (a) makes any false statement, for the purpose of being registered as a voter; or in answer to any lawful enquiry by a revising officer, returning officer or presiding officer, or for the purpose of making any objection to the registration of any other person as voter, or in any oath or declaration taken or made by him by virtue of any of the requirements of this act, knowing such statement to be false; shall be guilty of an offence against this act, and any person who aids, abets, counsels or procures the commission of any such offence shall also be guilty of an offence against this act.”
When called on to answer to the charge at his arraignment in March, Johnson pleaded not guilty.