Bahamas Attorney General John Delaney dismissed reports in the local media that his office was considering abandoning the upcoming retrial of former PLP senator Pleasant Bridgewater and ex-ambulance driver Tarino Lightbourne on charges relating to the alleged extortion attempt on US actor John Travolta.
There had been rumours that the AG’s office was considering entering a nolle prosequi – a declaration that the prosecution of a case is to discontinued.
“I don’t know where they would have gotten that from,” said Mr Delaney of the comments on the matter, which were supposedly from “high level sources” in the Attorney General’s Office.
Mr Delaney said his office is the only one that can enter a nolle prosequi and that is not his plan.
“As far as the Attorney General’s Office is concerned, the (retrial) action will proceed.”
The retrial is scheduled for Monday, September 6. It was ordered by Senior Justice Anita Allen after she declared a mistrial in the first trial following an announcement by MP Picewell Forbes at the PLP convention that Ms Bridgewater was a “free woman”. Yet, jurors were still deliberating at the time Mr Forbes made the announcement.
Judge Allen has been criticized for her actions because she declared a mistrial but did not hold Mr Forbes, or anyone accountable.
One legal observer said:
“Either it was a mistrial or it wasn’t. If indeed a mistrial was declared because of Mr Forbes remarks, then he should have gone to jail for contempt of court.
If Forbes’ comments were made based on information from a leak in the jury, then an investigation should have been undertaken and a jury member should be in jail.
But for the trial to be skewered, with no one being held accountable, smacks of a pre-arranged conspiracy against justice.”
Some reports in US tabloids suggested that Mr Travolta no longer wishes to testify for the prosecution in the case as his wife, Kelly Preston, is now expecting another child.
But the case is really rather open and shut and evidence against the two suspects is overwhelming. The prosecution should be successful whether Mt Travolta testifies or not.
Mr Travolta testified at the first trial, which relates to the death of his 16-year-old son, Jett, at the family’s vacation home on Grand Rahama in January 2009.