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Govt To Appeal Smith Acquittal

Former PLP Senator Frank Smith speaking to the media after he was acquitted on Friday.

Former PLP Senator Frank Smith speaking to the media after he was acquitted on Friday.

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Minister of National Security Marvin Dames. Photo: Terrel W. Carey Sr/Tribune staff

By AVA TURNQUEST

Tribune Chief Reporter

aturnquest@tribunemedia.net

NATIONAL Security Minister Marvin Dames yesterday defended his role in the bribery and extortion trial against former PLP Senator Frank Smith, telling The Tribune he did not play political games.

Mr Dames and Health Minister Dr Duane Sands are both facing calls from the opposition for their resignations, after the two were criticised by Chief Magistrate Joyann Ferguson-Pratt for the “egregious” way in which they interacted with chief prosecution witness in the case, Barbara Hanna.

The government has indicated it will appeal her ruling.

Dr Sands declined comment on the matter yesterday.

While making clear he did not wish to comment on the chief magistrate’s ruling, Mr Dames took exception to opposition calls for his resignation.

He stressed Mr Smith’s case - for his part - did not have any special political significance over the scores of other matters under his ministerial remit, and pledged to continue his mandate against corruption.

“As far as I was concerned,” Mr Dames said, “I was called to give evidence, I gave to the best of my ability. I will not speak to that case, I don’t want it to even be perceived that one case to me is more important than the others because it isn’t.

“I don’t investigate matters, at one time I did, but my job as minister is to ensure that we provide those who investigate and prosecute with tools to create policies that will allow it to happen.”

On Friday, the chief magistrate acquitted and discharged Mr Smith of all 15 criminal charges after finding fault with numerous “inconsistencies” and “discrepancies” in the Crown’s case, which she further said was “undermined” by its own witnesses.

Mr Dames continued: “I’ve never met Mrs Hanna. I don’t know Mrs Hanna, never met her before she came to me. As I said before I referred her to the police, that was the extent of my interaction. So it’s clear that now that a ruling has been made. The opposition wants to play politics with it, that’s not my business, that’s not my concern.

“I am a minister of national security,” Mr Dames said, “and part of my remit is to ensure the people of this country are safe and we bring some level of resect back to the nation. The Bahamian people continue to say the level of corruption is way too high, I take that seriously. As long as I sit in this office, I will do whatever it takes within the framework of the law to ensure we address this problem of corruption in this country.”

Mr Dames further criticised what he felt to be the Progressive Liberal Party’s capitalisation on the recent ruling for political expediency, which he termed a “sad indictment”.

When questioned by The Tribune whether the ruling presented a setback to the government’s anti-corruption track, Mr Dames said: “The magistrate ruled, that’s not for me to say. I gave my evidence and I gave as transparent as I possibly can and I’ve been doing it for decades. I’m not playing the game of the old politics and tricks that some politicians continue to play. It’s not for me to do an assessment.”

Mr Dames added: “A ruling has been made. We’ll see what the next steps are, I’m not going to comment on a case because that’s not how I look at it. We have a serious problem in this country with corruption and at the highest level. When it involves the young man (from the) Over-the-Hill community no one cares, but all of a sudden one case brings everybody out to say ‘oh this is politically driven.’

“What we as leaders in this country should be doing is looking at how we can use our voices to make this country a better place, to make it a more respected country, to work together in unison to reduce the level of corruption and violence that persists at all levels. I don’t see no one running to the rescue of the small man, what about him?”

Attorney General Carl Bethel confirmed the government intends to appeal the judge’s decision to throw out bribery and extortion charges against Mr Smith.

Mr Bethel declined further comment on the matter, telling The Tribune the ruling would be canvassed in the context of the government’s appeal as had been indicated by the Director of Public Prosecutions Garvin Gaskin.

However, the attorney general did address opposition calls for a review into his ethical conduct.

At a press conference on Sunday, PLP Leader Philip Davis insisted the matter should have been dropped long before it reached the “no-case submission” stage.

To this, Mr Bethel said: “As a senior lawyer and parliamentarian, (Mr Davis) he should be in the best position to remember that he himself participated in vote of Parliament which legislated the only person lawfully entitled to discontinue a criminal matter is the director of public prosecutions.

“(Mr Davis) He should not allow his wish to condemn ministers to cloud his legal judgement when making a public statement,” Mr Bethel added, “it does not sit well with him.”

Comments

mandela 1 year, 1 month ago

So the taxpayers will be submitted to more unnecessary payout?, money I'm sure we as taxpayers can find some better use for these funds.

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Sickened 1 year, 1 month ago

Why appeal such a weak case?

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geostorm 1 year, 1 month ago

Agreed @sickened, the case is weak. The witness is flawed and I think the Chief magistrate gave an excellent assessment of the witness' character. I do however, believe that Mr. Smith is guilty but that was not proven, so he walks out a free man! Case dismissed.

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birdiestrachan 1 year, 1 month ago

Dames the masterful liar is only digging a ditch deeper for himself. The higher he takes this case the lower he will become. on the world stage. It was political and he knows it was. Power at any cost it will not work.

We remember the pilot did not have a flight plan.

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birdiestrachan 1 year, 1 month ago

Corruption ?? Dames are you sure you want to go there even as your Government has dropped to a new low and this case will cost your government to go even lower.

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Well_mudda_take_sic 1 year, 1 month ago

Now they want to double down in their foolishness. Minnis, Bethel, Sands and Dames have all publicly disgraced and humiliated themselves in the most demeaning way possible. Each of them most deservedly should be made to walk and jump off the end of the plank. They don't ever again deserve the public trust!

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TalRussell 1 year, 1 month ago

Yes, or no - Comrade PM Minnis was not of hushed silence mindset back April 2015, when he rebuked PLP minister V. Alfred...................

"Free National Movement Leader Dr Hubert Minnis yesterday advised MICAL MP V Alfred Gray not to be “arrogant” about the allegations against him, saying the embattled MP should remember that the Bahamian people have the final say on the matter.

Dr Minnis told The Tribune it was voters who elected Mr Gray and they have the power to ensure that he no longer has a seat in the House of Assembly.

He said Mr Gray should now formulate his resignation letter along with offering an apology to the Bahamian people."

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TalRussell 1 year, 1 month ago

Yes, or no - upon becoming all elected House MP's - are red comrades now limp walking on crutches?

  • August 06, 2015 Queen's official opposition members walk out House in protest at V Alfred. Members of the official opposition Free National Movement yesterday walked out the House in their continued their protest against V Alfred -
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SP 1 year, 1 month ago

Yes or no - Minnis has now 100% lost his mandate to govern!

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BahamasForBahamians 1 year, 1 month ago

Dames must go.. so must CArl.

This is a 20m+ political witchunt

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Sickened 1 year, 1 month ago

Carl should never have been appointed AG. He's not an impressive character.

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licks2 1 year, 1 month ago

Bunch of yard chickens them "pickin at pips". . .doing nothing but "brokering they becks on solid ground" . . .een gat one ounce of common sense among the whole bunch!! Hahahahahahahaha. Envy could do a lot of things to some people aye? Making these people make "theysef" look like fools in the face of the planet. Yinna need to look up what is an adhomanic argument? What cause persons to resort to that type of arguments?? Hehehehehehe. . .hohohohohohohoho. . .yinna have reduced yinnasef to a buncha silly jokers. . .the Bahamas silly group. . .

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Socrates 1 year, 1 month ago

i have trouble believing this whole thing was cooked up to get Smith.. nothing special about him. if i was going to frame or trap someone, seems Fitzgerald would have been a better target. i believe where there is smoke there is fire or at least a source of heat. so, my take is police and AGs office botched this. what IS scary if true is the suggestion by the judge that the police manipulated the phone records to suggest a pattern of calls that never happened. if accurate, my blood crawls to think of how many ordinary innocent folks potentially could be in Fox Hill and conversely, how many guilty folks on the streets as a result of that same thing. I wonder if the magistrate grasped the significance of what she was suggesting in this,regard... it may be that a slew of cases need to be retried..

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licks2 1 year, 1 month ago

I holding to this judge was way intimidated by the elite make-up in the court. . .kicked the can down the road to get off the hot seat!! For example, the police did not have the phone records in digital form. . .BTC does. . .so how did the police mess-up them records unless somebody in BTC "adjusted" the record for the police or for someone in the PLP? The PLP's nature and record of corruption goes a long way to help to believe that they are likely and will do such dark deeds!! This case will go back into court. . .there were easily seen holes in reasoning at the case summation. . .but let's wait to see how the AC will rule!!

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BahamasForBahamians 1 year, 1 month ago

Talkin f*ck aye..

Next time put a disclaimer : this is want I want to happen.

You think the bench as perverted as the FNM headquarters on Mackey St. aye..

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