Shane Gibson speaks at the PLP headquarters on Monday night. Photo: Shawn Hanna/Tribune staff
By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
SHANE Gibson said Progressive Liberal Party leader Philip “Brave” Davis was the “mastermind” behind the defence strategy that helped him get acquitted last week of bribery charges. “A lot of people don’t know this,” Mr Gibson said last night. “We had a wonderful team of lawyers who represented me. But the catalyst, the mastermind behind the entire defence, was our leader.”
He made the statement during a PLP event at the party’s headquarters celebrating his acquittal.
He did not address the affair in depth, saying that though he prepared a lengthy speech, he will speak to it all at a later date.
During the nearly two hour event, nearly ten speakers attacked the Free National Movement government, labelling Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis “Slick Minnis” as they discussed a litany of the administration’s supposed failures.
Mr Davis recounted some of the facts related to Mr Gibson’s case and that of former PLP Senator Frank Smith who was also acquitted of bribery charges earlier this year.
“Throughout the two cases that have been completed, we have witnessed with great horror and disbelief, incontrovertible evidence of grave and rank prosecutorial misconduct and corruption,” he said.
In the case, the lead police investigator admitted it was wrong to meet key witnesses to synchronise their statements, something Supreme Court Justice Carolita Bethel also said was “very wrong.” Assistant Superintendent of Police Debra Thompson testified that this is a common practice and that Commissioner Anthony Ferguson and Director of Public Prosecutions Garvin Gaskin was aware that it happened in the case.
“In the face of all this, the attorney general who is the head of the bar, an officer of the court and the chief legal guardian of the integrity of the judiciary, did absolutely nothing save for a wink here and a nod there, bringing the administration of the criminal justice systems into ill repute and the laughing stock of the region,” Mr Davis said.
Mr Davis said Attorney General Carl Bethel “has a lot to answer for as he has consistently breached the public trust and has defended the indefensible.”
“In fact, he should be fired or made to resign,” he 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 pole how much these persecutions have cost the taxpayers with nothing to show.”
Mr Bethel has so far refused to reveal the legal fees associated with the cases.
“We are hearing all kinds of numbers from $20,000 per day to $1.4 million in total,” Mr Davis said. “This government could find huge sums of money to pay lawyers for these politically driven cases with trumped up charges but refuses to pay the workers monies duly owed to them.”
For his part, PLP Deputy Leader Chester Cooper gloated about Mr Gibson’s victory.
“I hear people talk about the AG and the DPP and the ASP and the CM,” he said. “But they seem to forget about the PM. Remember all dem rallies Minnis had talking about people ‘gern to jail?’”