By RICARDO WELLS
Tribune Staff Reporter
OPPOSITION Leader Philip “Brave” Davis yesterday slammed civil society for its silence over the Frank Smith bribery and extortion trial, suggesting a double standard existed for the Free National Movement administration.
Mr Davis said the Progressive Liberal Party is “mulling over” plans to extend its boycott of both the lower and upper chambers.
“You don’t have any independence, there is no outrage from civil society,” he said in an interview with The Tribune.
“If this was the PLP they would be all over it. Where there is a clear finding that the streams of justice are being contaminated and infested with political interference. You had a witness who talked about being pressured, talked about giving evidence against her will. There was clear evidence she was awarded a contract for $2m less than two weeks before going in the witness box.
“There are no independent voices that can speak to that? The Bar Association has said nothing.
“This woman was so vulnerable. How could the AG’s office have asked about (the PHA contract), and they skip the story?”
The Tribune has reached out to several prominent lawyers for comment on Chief Magistrate Joyann Ferguson-Pratt's ruling, which cited “egregious” conduct in connection with Mr Smith’s trial.
Yesterday, Mr Davis said the members of the opposition were awaiting the government’s response to their complaints, insisting they wanted their concerns about their perceived assaults on democracy taken seriously.
The party last week staged walkouts at both the House of Assembly and Senate in protest of “tyrannical attitudes” in government, whom it claimed were determined to use prosecutorial powers of the Crown to target PLPs.
The move has drawn criticisms from several government officials including Attorney General Carl Bethel who has attacked the PLP’s position on at least two occasions in recent days.
Mr Davis yesterday took issue with the government’s continued action against the PLP, calling for greater outrage from societal groups and general public over the government’s handling of cases involving PLP members.
“It’s in peril and there seems to be no outrage over what is happening,” Mr Davis told The Tribune.
Referring specifically to major revelations that came out of the Frank Smith case, he questioned why a government so pressed on attacking corruption has done so little to investigate the corrupt actions highlighted through the case.
“We would expect they would at least launch an investigation into why the phone records were doctored,” he said. “I mean it’s indefensible.”
“A witness was given a $2m contract days before she goes in the witness box. There should at least be some response and there is nothing.”
He added: “… The Shane Gibson case is worse, they put a gag order on it but it’s worse. It makes Frank’s case seem insignificant, it’s really troubling.”
Mr Davis further claimed that the actions of the FNM have shattered the confidence the Bahamian people had in the administration of justice in the country.
He said throughout the country currently, persons are questioning the validity of the cases against many, if not all, of the inmates at the Department of Correctional Services.
“… People are talking about it because that innocent man from over the hill may be in prison now, and his parents have been claiming that this has been happening to them and were unable to uncover the smoking gun,” Mr Davis said.
“How can you have confidence?”
When asked if his comments should be viewed as an indictment against law enforcement agencies, Mr Davis said his commentary had more to do with the persons in positions of authority who were allowing themselves to be manipulated.
“I don’t know if the force is strong enough to stand up to the political electorate and it does not appear to be that way,” Mr Davis asserted.
“People are honestly getting angry.
“People are anxious to see what the government is going to do.
“Is Sands going to resign? Is Dames going to resign? Their own members are now raising this question of them applying rules of the Westminster system selectively.”
Mr Davis implored the Minnis administration to do all necessary to restore confidence in the judiciary.