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Gomez: Comments were based on compassion, not politics

Retired Anglican Archbishop Drexel Gomez yesterday sought to clarify that when he agreed with Senior Pastor of Mount Tabor Baptist Church Bishop Neil Ellis about the “inhumane” treatment of former Minister of Labour Shane Gibson, he did so out of a “human interest” and not a political one.

Gomez and Ellis said they believe Gibson was treated “inhumanely” when he was escorted into court last week to face bribery and extortion charges.

“At no time did I question the fact that he had to be arraigned,” Gomez said.

“What I was questioning was what I considered to be the inhumane treatment that I saw on ZNS television on the evening news.

“He was hobbling, obviously, with a sprained ankle and when they reached the steps he literally had to hop up the steps.

“I just felt that anyone who is suffering from a sprained ankle should not be subjected to that treatment.

“I considered that to be lacking in compassion or empathy, and for that reason I made the comment.”

Gibson had a foot injury, his attorney Anthony McKinney said.

He did not have crutches when he was escorted to his arraignment.

In a message to his congregants, Ellis said it “pained” him to watch videos of Gibson hopping up the court steps.

He suggested there was no need for the police to handcuff the former minister, as he was not a flight risk and had contributed greatly to the country.

Gomez, who was contacted on Tuesday for his view on the matter, supported the comments that Gibson was treated inhumanely.

But former Court of Appeal President Dame Joan Sawyer accused the clergymen of seeking to divide The Bahamas.

She said if they are not going to speak the word of God they should “shut up”.

Gomez suggested that Dame Joan’s assertion was “unfair”.

“I have been in this society for decades,” he said.

“I have been critical of both parties openly.

“I am talking about a fellow human being who is under a particular set of circumstances.

“Obviously, with a politician, I can understand people coming to false conclusions.

“But what I am saying is look at the matter that is before you.

“I raised a humane point. I didn’t raise anything about politics or anything else.

“It is unfair for people to then say I have only made these comments because of Mr. Shane Gibson.

“My comment is, any human being who is subjected to that, it is unfair.”

Dame Joan was a guest on ‘The Nahaja Black Show’ on Sports Radio ZSR 103.5.

She also charged that the clergymen should be men of peace and speak of God’s salvation, not politics.

To that, Gomez said he is not concerned about her criticisms, as the God he serves knows compassion.

“All I would say about that is the God whom I worship is a God who the Bible tells us is full of compassion, and whose justice is experienced by the just and unjust,” he said.

“That’s the God that I worship and I try to practice humane treatment because I believe in Him, and this is a virtue that He has revealed to us in Jesus, and it is found throughout the Bible.

“Anyone can criticize me about that.

“I don’t mind that because I know what I am talking about is rooted and grounded in the God whom I worship.”

Gomez said Bahamians must “deal with the reality” and look beyond the politics at the way people are treated in custody and when they are arraigned.

He said anyone in Gibson’s position should have been allowed to use their crutches.

Gibson was charged with two counts of conspiracy to commit extortion, two counts of conspiracy to commit bribery, 15 counts of extortion, 16 counts of bribery and one count of misconduct in public office — 36 counts in total.

When Gibson presented himself to the Central Detective Unit (CDU) to meet with police last Wednesday, he did not use crutches.

The next day, after he was transported to the magistrates’ courts, Gibson exited a police car using crutches.

He used those crutches to enter the nearby police station.

A short time later, he exited the station in handcuffs and no crutches.

He had to hop up the stairs to court.