Former Labour and National Insurance Minister Shane Gibson.
By RICARDO WELLS
Tribune Staff Reporter
SUPREME Court Justice Indra Charles has dismissed a constitutional motion by former Cabinet minister Shane Gibson and stayed the criminal proceedings against him.
Justice Charles ruled on Friday that Mr Gibson “should be tried”, adding the criminal justice system would more likely be shaken if he does not stand trial.
A new trial date for the bribery charges has been fixed for September 23, with a status hearing set for May 7 to allow either side to make further submissions or appeals.
Justice Charles struck out the constitutional motion as an abuse of the process of the court, ruling that the findings of the court show adequate means of redress exists.
Mr Gibson’s attorneys, by way of a motion of constitutional relief, were seeking to have all charges against him tossed on the grounds of, among other things, witness coaching and overarching collusion between various police and prosecution units.
The three-page motion, filed in the Supreme Court last July, declared that impermissible witness training and coaching had taken place among the Anti-Corruption and Central Detective Units of the Royal Bahamas Police Force; the Director of Public Prosecution Garvin Gaskin and his office; the attorneys for Jonathan Ash, Alecia Bowe and interviewing officer Assistant Superintendent of Police Deborah Thompson.
For her part on Friday, Justice Charles said it was her considered opinion that Gibson faces “very serious allegations of corruption in public office,” and as such, needed to stand trial.
“Public confidence in the criminal justice is more likely to be shaken if the applicant is not tried,” she said.
On August 3, 2017, Mr Gibson was arraigned in a Magistrate’s Court on 36 bribery and extortion related charges: one count of misconduct in public office, 16 counts of bribery, two counts of conspiracy to commit bribery, two counts of conspiracy to commit extortion and 15 counts of extortion – all of these concerned with Jonathan Ash.
The number of bribery and extortion related charges were later decreased to 31, though the amount he is alleged to have solicited from Mr Ash remained the same.
The Crown later dropped all the extortion charges against the former Golden Gates MP, with the DPP stating at the time that the decision was for the Crown to devote a “singular and simplified focus” on Gibson’s bribery charges.
In a surprise move last September, Justice Charles summoned case prosecutors, Gibson’s attorneys and representatives from several media outlets to her court; informing all groups that an order was being drafted to block all public discussions of the case through its completion.
Justice Charles, speaking specifically to the members of the media present, called the public actions and reports concerning the case “a matter of grave importance.”
She went on to note that her concern with articles she had read which had reported on elements of the case, either directly or indirectly.
“If you see it as a gag order, then so be it,” she said.
Addressing the status of the gag order Friday, Justice Charles gave leeway to reporters to provide coverage of her ruling, but suggested that the order could stand for the trial.