By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
A PROSECUTOR at the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions is nursing wounds after he was stabbed in the head on Sunday night, an attack officials say has little precedent in The Bahamas.
The stabbing of Joel Seymour is believed to be connected with his role as a prosecutor, Director of Public Prosecutions Garvin Gaskin confirmed yesterday.
“This matter is very serious,” he said. “As a matter of fact it goes to the administration of justice. The security of prosecutors is paramount because obviously everybody has their role to play and the role we play in the criminal justice system is critical so you can’t have persons either assaulted or intimidated or anything like that. We are mandated to do our jobs for you all, our clients, the Bahamian people.”
Asked to confirm if the stabbing was directly related to Mr Seymour’s role as a prosecutor, Mr Gaskin said: “Police haven’t completed their investigation and I don’t want a situation where my statements may impact the findings so I want to allow them to do their job and when their investigation is complete we’ll appropriately respond, but based on the information we have the incident appears to be in connection with his capacity as a prosecutor.”
Local prosecutors have faced threats before, but Mr Gaskin could not recall another time when one became a victim of bodily harm.
It is understood that Mr. Seymour was a prison officer before being seconded several years ago from the prison to the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions.
“If you canvass the times past and the complaints, intimidation, that’s been going on, but bodily harm, that one, thankfully, is exceptional,” Mr Gaskin said. “There needs to be a greater focus on prosecutorial security. If this can be that impetus to the appropriate level of focus then thankfully he is not injured severely but now we can pay due attention to this security issue.”
Mr Seymour has been discharged from hospital and is in stable condition. The Tribune could not reach him yesterday.
“His experience must be extremely jarring,” Mr Gaskin said. “Thankfully it’s not a situation where he is still hospitalised or anything like that but we know it could have really turned in another direction easily.”
The International Association of Prosecutors, established by the United Nations in 1995, described the minimum standards for the security and protection of public prosecutors and their families. The declaration calls for states to “take all steps to provide necessary protection, including engaging the police or security guards.”
The IAP said: “An appropriate state authority should be given the responsibility to assess the security risk both to prosecutors generally and to specific prosecutors as well as their families and to keep all assessments under review at reasonable intervals or when circumstances change.” It’s not clear whether the Bahamas adheres to such standards.
Despite the seriousness of the weekend incident, police did not report it in their daily crime report; it is unclear when and where the incident took place. Chief Superintendent of Police Solomon Cash did not respond to The Tribune’s repeated attempts to reach him yesterday, and Assistant Superintendent of Police Shanta Knowles, the press liaison officer, also did not provide details about the incident when contacted.
For his part, Assistant Commissioner of Police Clayton Fernander said the incident took place “at night at an establishment.” He said two men are in custody, having turned themselves in. He was careful not to specify a motive for the stabbing.
“We will check to see if he was a target based on him being a prosecutor in a particular matter,” ACP Fernander said. “That is something during the course of our investigation we will determine.”