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Police investigation should take its course

Published: May 19, 2017

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We should not get excited just because the Royal Bahamas Police Force has taken a former Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) member of Parliament into custody. Our force is independent and has the authority to pursue any matter, regardless of who might be involved.

Former Nassau Village MP Dion Smith, a PLP, was arrested yesterday in connection with an ongoing theft investigation at the Bahamas Agricultural and Industrial Corporation (BAIC). Smith was the corporation’s executive chairman prior to the change in government last week. He was also deputy speaker of the House of Assembly.

The development came two days after seven BAIC employees were detained for questioning over the alleged theft that took place on the day of the election, according to authorities.

An eighth employee was being questioned over the matter as of Wednesday.

Those employees have since been released pending further investigation.

According to police, electronic items, including computers and television sets, were allegedly stolen. The Nassau Guardian understands some of the items were subsequently returned.

For police to have commenced an investigation and for people to have been detained, at some point a complaint was made. When this takes place officers are obliged to investigate to determine if laws were broken. This doesn’t mean that there was a political motivation.

The new PLP leader should not have invoked politics just because a former PLP MP was questioned. Philip Brave Davis yesterday compared the Royal Bahamas Police Force’s handling and arrest of BAIC employees to the secret state police of Nazi Germany.

In a statement, he said the PLP is concerned about the manner and treatment of the BAIC staff, who Davis noted “all worked with the last chairman of the corporation, Dion Smith”.

“Descending on a corporation during working hours, Gestapo style, with guns drawn in the circumstances of the allegations made against the employees, seems like overkill,” Davis said.

“None of these people would have been armed and no arms were involved in any of the allegations.

“The new government has to be careful that it does not live up to the widespread expectation of witch hunts by them following a campaign.”

The PLP should not assume that this investigation is political in nature. Allow police to look into the matter. We have been advised that this is a legitimate complaint. If charges are filed, we have an open and fair criminal justice system. Those accused would be able to present defenses in open court.

The PLP should not claim victimization. Our police are more professional than that. Give the authorities time to do their work. We want them to take a thorough look at the issues before them. Police will only utter charges if they think there is a clear violation of the law based on the evidence before them.

Be patient. Let’s see what comes of this.

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