By NICO SCAVELLA
Tribune Staff Reporter
THE man charged with setting fire to a male dormitory at the Bahamas Agriculture and Marine Sciences Institute (BAMSI) last month yesterday claimed his rights were “violated” during the investigative process.
Dave Dion Moxey, aka “Davo” of Fresh Creek, Andros, was yesterday charged with arson for setting fire to the dormitory on January 15.
However, after hearing the particulars of the charge from Chief Magistrate Joyann Ferguson-Pratt, the 50-year-old expressed his disgust at the way he claimed the investigation was handled.
“The investigation was poorly executed,” he said yesterday. “As of now, I am being violated of my rights.”
Moxey went on to say that his address in Skinny’s Point, Fresh Creek, was “20-something” miles away from BAMSI, but before he could further elaborate, he was interrupted by Mrs Ferguson-Pratt.
“That is what you call a trial issue and I cannot entertain you at this junction,” she said. Mrs Ferguson-Pratt said she would hear his sentiments next Monday, when she would “entertain” Moxey’s bail application.
Nonetheless, Moxey was not required to enter a plea, and the matter was adjourned to April 14, when a Voluntary Bill of Indictment will be presented.
He was remanded to the Bahamas Department of Correctional Services until that time.
Last month flames ravaged the recently-constructed dormitory at the institute. Preliminary reports from police said it was the result of arson and that the blaze began in the roof around 7pm.
Officials battled the blaze and managed to extinguish it shortly after 11 o’clock that night; however, it left one of the male dormitories at the institute severely damaged.
Fire Chief Superintendent Walter Evans told The Tribune that the fire was the result of arson, but did not say whether officials had determined a motive behind the fire.
However, Agriculture Minister V Alfred Gray denied speculation circulating at the time that the fire may have been started by disgruntled contractors who had not been paid by the government, and said that “all contractors” hired by the government were paid in full.
Last month, however, Mr Gray said that an upset worker confessed to police that he set the fire because he had not received money owed to him by his contractor, reportedly bringing closure to the investigation.
Chief Supt Evans told The Tribune that the investigation was still open, but refused to elaborate further.
BAMSI contractor Audley Hanna told The Tribune last month that it would cost more than $120,000 to repair the dormitory. However, Mr Hanna said he expected the cost to rise after a team from the Ministry of Works had completed their assessment of the damage.
On Friday, however, Mr Gray said engineers informed him that the dormitory was “salvageable.”
He said that a report from engineers on the building is expected to be handed over by the end of the month, after which he will reveal the details of how the government will address the reconstruction.
“The engineer’s report has indicated that we will be able to repair the building rather than replace it,” he said. “The top floor is not repairable but most of the bottom floor is. That’s good news as one third of the building will probably be saved.”
Mr Gray said he is not sure of the cost of repairing the building, and added that it “will get to be quantified soon”.
“We have asked the (engineers) to give us their report as soon as possible and I assume that by the end of the month we will be able to go public with information concerning the dorm,” he said.
BAMSI is a major government initiative established in an effort to reduce the country’s reliance on food imports.
Students began studying at the institute last year following construction delays.
This year’s courses began last month, with the arrival of 10 students who will study with 45 others from nine different islands who registered for the institute’s associate’s degree programmes last year.