July 19, 2011
The government signed a contract yesterday to begin the renovation of the Royal Victoria Gardens complex to accommodate a second coroner's court. The government hopes the addition will help to clear the backlog of cases before the court. Coroner Linda Virgil said during the announcement of the renovations at the Ministry of Public Works, that the Coroner's Office has completed 400 cases this year, only two of which reached the inquest stage. She said, however, that seven inquests are scheduled for September.
Virgil explained that the new Coroners Act, which was passed in February, enables the Coroner's Court to conduct inquests quickly. Minister of Education and Acting Attorney General Desmond Bannister admitted that the backlog of cases at the Coroner's Court has reach an "unacceptable" level and he expressed hope that the upgraded court would help to decrease the case backlog.
"The public has been rightfully concerned about the unacceptable backlog of such matters that required the attention of the coroner, and many persons were becoming frustrated as a result," he said.
He added that former Attorney General Sir Michael Barnett, who is now the chief justice, was the one who made the request to the government for the creation of a second coroner's court to expedite matters requiring the intervention of the coroner. Minister of Public Works and Transport Neko Grant said the renovations will cost $256,311. The contract for the work was awarded to Bahamian Quality Builders. "The works to be undertaken will include carpentry to the court's interior and the installation of new flooring and a ceiling along with electrical, plumbing and air conditioning upgrades," Grant said.
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