NASSAU, BAHAMAS – The Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) yesterday renewed calls for the resignation of the prime minister, the attorney general, health minister and national security minister regarding the “malicious prosecution” against two former PLP Cabinet ministers.
PLP Leader Philip Brave Davis renewed calls for a formal inquiry into the circumstances and events around the corruption charges brought against former Labour Minister Shane Gibson and former Public Hospitals Authority (PHA) Chairman Frank Smith.
Gibson was acquitted by a jury of nine of all 15 counts of bribery against him and Smiths’s bribery and extortion case was thrown out.
The Court of Appeal has unanimously rebuked the Crown’s appeal of Smith’s acquittal.
The government has said it has no intentions of appealing the Gibson decision.
Addressing PLP supporters at a Special Call Meeting at the party’s headquarters, Davis charged, “There is clearly a need for a thorough cleansing of the prosecution system.”
“The constitutional leader, the Attorney General, has much to answer for to the Bahamian people as he has consistently breached the public trust and has defended the indefensible. In fact, he should be fired or made to resign,” Davis said.
“Carl Bethel must explain to the Bahamian people how we got to where we are – placing the government in a position to be sued in a court of law for malicious prosecution.
“And while he is at it, he has to explain to the Bahamian people how much these persecutions have cost the taxpayers with nothing to show for it…He should resign.”
Davis continued: “I publicly call for a formal inquiry into the circumstances and events touching and concerning the charges brought against Smith and Gibson with a view of bringing to justice any offending party in the process and to identify measures to prevent like future conduct.
“…I am again calling for Cabinet Ministers Marvin Dames and Dr. Duane Sands to step down in the face of these scurrilous and scandalous revelations.”
In her ruling on the Smith matter, Chief Magistrate Joyann Ferguson-Pratt decried the “egregious” conduct of both ministers for their involvement in the case.
During the course of the case it was revealed that Sands awarded a second contract of $1.8 million to Barbara Hanna – the prosecution’s lead witness – three months after Smith was charged of bribing and extorting Hanna.
The circumstances of the contract raised a “specter of impropriety”, Ferguson-Pratt said.
It was also revealed that Dames met with Hanna before she made an official complaint to police.
The magistrate characterized this meeting as “unorthodox, to say the least”.
Davis last night urged party supports to stand ready to be called at short notice for public demonstrations in support of a truly independent judiciary.
He also called for a review of the laws relating to the appointment of judges.
Meanwhile, Deputy PLP Leader Chester Cooper echoed criticisms of the Minnis administration’s handling of the corruption trials and Bahamas Power and Light and its hypocrisy on increased government travel.
“Tonight, I say again, Minnis must go,” Cooper told party supporters.
“…Minnis must resign”.