FNM leader Dr Hubert Minnis joins scores of Bahamians who want to know what the government has to hide relating to a gun case that was dismissed under unusual circumstances.
In a statement issued earlier this week, Dr Minnis noted that repeated requests from the Opposition to see “the mysterious files” have gone unanswered.
“I have today dispatched a second formal letter to Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Perry Christie, formally requesting that I have unfettered access to the files in connection with the nolle prosequi issued by Acting Attorney General Jerome Fitzgerald in the matter of George and Janice Hayles,” Minnis said.
“In customary delay, delay, delay style, the Prime Minister says one thing with great fanfare, and then is notoriously slow to live up to his word.”
While speaking in the House of Assembly on January 9, Mr Christie had promised that the Leader of the Opposition would be granted access to the files.
According to Jermone Fitzgerald the case was suddenly dismissed for “national security” reasons.
Dr Minnis was one of many who thought the dimissal was odd, due to the fact that the two defendants used to be clients of the Attorney General, Allyson Maynard-Gibson.
It was thought by many that Mr Fitzgerald dismissed the case in a quid pro quo move, where the Attorney General would later dismiss charges against Mr Fitzgerald’s good buddy and campaign general, Carlos Lamm, an alleged drug smuggler.
To dispel those rumours, Mr Lamm was ceremoniously convicted last week in a rare instance of justice being delivered in The Bahamas.
Legal analysts allege that Lamm’s conviction was a smoke screen to eliminate any suspicions that the Attorney General and Mr Fitzgerald had made a deal to excuse each other’s cases.
Experts says that Mr Lamm will be acquitted on appeal after the gun case controversy goes away.
“To date, the Prime Minister has yet to be true to his word. He has yet to give the officials within Cabinet Office approval to accommodate my review of this file for the purpose of determining whether the Opposition can support the conclusion arrived at by the Attorney General and/or the Acting Attorney General,” Dr Minnis said.
“My colleagues and I in the Free National Movement are greatly concerned that the Prime Minister is grossly underestimating the extent to which this matter continues to significantly erode the reputation of the Bahamas’ judicial system in the international community in general and public confidence in his government in particular.
“Final resolution of this matter cannot be delayed. The currently available facts suggest that the Acting Attorney General — by some miraculous stroke of coincidence — was able to identify and act upon this particular file while the Attorney General was off the island, and the Minister of State in the Attorney General’s Office, Damien Gomez, was not available.
“The Bahamian people are deeply suspicious about this matter and the Prime Minister should move with dispatch to allay their concerns and put this matter behind him and the country.”
The Tribune newspaper quoted former PLP Attorney General Sean McWeeney, who said Mr Fitzgerald “did not perform out of line with the law.”
But Dr Minnis asked, “How exactly was Mr McWeeney able to arrive at such a firm conclusion? It is one thing for a former Attorney General to inform the public generally about the constitutional power of the Attorney General and an Acting Attorney General; it is altogether another for him to make a finding of fact without having seen all the evidence or the file in the matter.
“If he did, indeed, have access to the file, how did this occur? This is especially troubling in that the leader of the Opposition, the holder of a constitutional office, continues to be denied access to the file, despite the assurances given to the Bahamian people, on the floor of Parliament, by the Prime Minister.”
Dr Minnis urged the Prime Minister to “put down his fiddle and extinguish this fire.”