By Royston Jones Jr.
Nassau Guardian Staff Reporter
NASSAU, Bahamas -- Attorney Fred Smith on Wednesday scolded Bahamas Minister of Foreign Affairs Fred Mitchell for what he called “cowardly attacks on defenseless private citizens”.
Fred Mitchell in the House of Assembly. Photo: Ahvia J. Campbell
As Mitchell sought to explain the government’s position on two Cubans released from the Fox Hill prison by a judge last Thursday, he accused opposition Free National Movement (FNM) chairman Michael Pintard of political mischief and asserted that Nassau Guardian managing editor Candia Dames misrepresented his position in The Nassau Guardian’s National Review on Monday.
Mitchell also charged that Smith’s god is money and claimed that he (Smith) urged migrants to flood the country with lawsuits in the expectation that the government would be bankrupted.
The minister claimed that Pintard, Dames and Smith “must have sad lives”.
FNM deputy leader Peter Turnquest objected to Mitchell’s statements and claimed he abused his parliamentary privilege.
In a statement, Smith said, “Thankfully, his attempt to yet again use Parliament as a bully pulpit to intimidate civilians was cut short by the speaker.
“Still, Mitchell managed to land a few fictitious blows on my reputation, suggesting that I should be reported to the Bar Council for possibly colluding with my clients to smuggle them into the United States.
“Not only is this suggestion absolute garbage, lacking even a resemblance to the truth, it also speaks to the malicious, underhanded way in which he typically deals with those who he believes are his enemies.”
Mitchell told Parliament he was attacked in the public domain and suggested the appropriate place to respond was the House of Assembly.
Last Thursday, Supreme Court Justice Stephen Isaacs ordered the release of Carlos Pupo and Lazaro Seara Marin, who had been “unlawfully” imprisoned at the Department of Correctional Services since 2013.
They were represented by Smith.
National Review revealed on Monday that Mitchell had asked Cabinet colleagues in November to approve asylum for the men.
He advised that they had met all security requirements to be granted asylum.
But in a statement after the ruling last week, Mitchell said the men were a national security risk.
Pintard also responded strongly to the matter, demanding that Mitchell provide full details on what transpired.
Speaking in Parliament on Wednesday, Mitchell said, “I cannot, Mr Speaker, refer to the matters at hand without dealing with the individuals who have perpetrated the specific mischief that I am seeking to address, namely Fred Smith QC, Candia Dames, a Nassau Guardian journalist, and Michael Pintard, the chairman of the FNM.
“I believe that anyone who knows my association with these individuals would know that it is not beyond conception or belief that what is published from their pens and what is said from their lips is entirely discreditable, given their strange personal animus toward this MP and their total preoccupation, I would argue infatuation, with a personality to the point where being ignored they seek to destroy.
“I pity them all. They must have sad lives indeed.
“Each of them in turn have determined for some reason or another that it is in their political or other interest to misrepresent what I have said and who I am in the hope that they can gain some mileage.”
But in his statement, Smith said, “Mitchell is intelligent enough to know that it is rank hypocrisy to complain about attacks upon one’s integrity, only to turn around and malign the integrity of others while hiding behind the safety of parliamentary privilege.
“Perhaps he assumes the public is not so smart.
“His repeated appeal for permission to continue his unwarranted attack was pathetic to behold.
“Mitchell pleaded to the speaker that he was attacked in the public domain, but that the appropriate arena in which to respond is Parliament, where -- coincidentally of course -- he is protected from legal action no matter what he says to destroy the reputation of others.”
Smith challenged Mitchell to repeat his “false and scandalous allegations” outside the House.
“Sadly though, I somehow get the feeling he will not be able to muster the necessary courage.”
Republished with permission of the Nassau Guardian