Wednesday, June 12, 2019
By Nico Scavella
Tribune Staff Reporter
PRIME Minister Dr Hubert Minnis may be called upon to give testimony in former Labour and National Insurance Minister Shane Gibson’s bribery trial in September, an attorney revealed yesterday.
Owen Wells, one of Gibson’s attorneys, said Dr Minnis possesses information that is “vital” to the defence’s attempts to stave off the 16 counts of bribery against its client.
Mr Wells said the defence has requested the Crown to make Dr Minnis available as a witness. However, he said given the position the Crown has taken on the issue, Dr Minnis may have to be subpoenaed. The trial is set for September 23.
In response to Mr Wells’ statements, Justice Carolita Bethel, who inherited the case after her fellow judge, Indra Charles, recused herself last month, said Gibson’s attorneys should endeavour to ensure that Dr Minnis has “something to offer” from an evidential standpoint.
“That’s all I deal with in this court,” she said.
Meanwhile, prosecution attorney Terry Archer indicated that the Crown has retained British attorney James Guthrie, QC, to act as lead prosecutor in the matter.
Meanwhile, Mr Wells indicated that the defence is reconsidering whether to forge ahead with Mr Guthrie’s compatriot and fellow attorney Edward Fitzgerald, QC, at the helm. Mr Wells said the defence is engaged in ongoing discussions on the matter, and may very well have a new lead attorney at trial.
The case was adjourned to July 4 for further case management. Justice Bethel said she expects issues such as disclosure between the two sides would be ironed out by that time.
Gibson’s bail continues until that time.
On August 3, 2017 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 concerned with Jonathan Ash.
The number of bribery and extortion related charges were later decreased to 31, though the amount he was alleged to have solicited from Mr Ash remained the same.
The Crown later announced its decision to drop all the extortion charges against the former Golden Gates MP, with Director of Public Prosecutions Garvin Gaskin stating at the time that the decision was for the Crown to devote a “singular and simplified focus” on Gibson’s bribery charges.
About an hour after his initial arraignment, Justice Cheryl Grant-Thompson granted the former Golden Gates MP $40,000 bail with two sureties on the condition he does not reoffend and attends his trial.
She did not impose any travel restrictions on Gibson, and neither was he required to surrender his travel documents or check into any police station.