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Smith Expected Back in Court – -Former Senator Faces Fraud Charges

Frank Smith - Court - Top Photo

Frank Smith - Court - Top PhotoFormer Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Senator Frank Smith is expected back in the Magistrate’s Court today following his adjourned arraignment.

Mr. Smith appeared in the Magistrate’s Court yesterday afternoon only to find out that he would spend another night behind bars.

This was due to the prosecution not being ready to proceed.

As part of the government’s anti-corruption initiative, Smith yesterday expected to face fraud related charges, according to his attorney, former PLP MP Damien Gomez.

Mr. Gomez spoke to reporters outside court yesterday afternoon charging that the whole ordeal is unfair.

“The law requires as soon as they have reason to charge someone, to bring them as quickly before a magistrate,” Mr. Gomez said.

“We were told that we were to report for the arraignment for 2 p.m. I have been sitting waiting in the court and at 3:30 p.m. we were told there is no file, and that one is being generated. It will take until sometime around 11 a.m. tomorrow morning.

“In my practice I’ve never seen this before.”

Showing up in support of Smith were his wife, mother and father-in-law and a few other relatives.

The case is expected to proceed today at 11 a.m. before Chief Magistrate Joyanne Ferguson-Pratt.

Mr. Smith is not the first PLP politician to have been questioned by police.

Mr. Gomez confirmed Michael Halkitis was recently questioned as well, adding though that the former state minister of finance was “not under any suspicion.”

Prior to this, former Environment and Housing Minister Kenred Dorsett was questioned, charged and subsequently arraigned in connection with bribery and extortion.

Dorsett was said to have used his ministerial position to extort and solicit $120,000 in bribes from Johnathan Ash, a contracted worker involved in Hurricane Matthew cleanup efforts.

Dorsett, who was represented by Wayne Munroe, QC, was granted $50,000 bail by the Supreme Court.

Former Bahamas Agricultural and Industrial Corporation (BAIC) Chairman and House Deputy Speaker Dion Smith was also brought in on allegations of stealing by way of employment.

Police later found that there was no evidence to charge him.

Former Foreign Affairs Minister Senator Fred Mitchell expressed his disgust with the recent arrests and sent a cautionary note to the government while appearing as a guest on Love 97’s daily talk show, Issue of the Day.

“The Privy Council has written that bringing people who are not a flight risk and in the court with shackles is not one to be supported. That is on any objective level,” he said.

“So when you see how this is all stacked up, that’s the issue. It’s whether politicians are actually running a police operation. We are surely concerned by the fact that the minister of national security addressed this issue which is just extraordinary.”

Mr. Gomez meantime is convinced that political abuse of power is behind these cases, something he promises will be dealt with at the appropriate time.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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