IT was a somewhat subdued group of co-accused who faced the Corporate Area Parish Court in St Andrew yesterday, in an alleged corruption matter that has rocked the country.
Former Education Minister Ruel Reid and Caribbean Maritime University (CMU) President Professor Fritz Pinnock were the first of the five to appear, entering the courtroom at 10:16 am.
The two, who sat in the prisoners’ dock after entering, spoke briefly to each other while looking around. Reid, wearing a dark grey suit and a slight smile, looked behind in one instance and acknowledged members of the media with a slight wave.
Professor Pinnock, clad in a grey tweed suit, looked subdued and somewhat tired. Reid’s wife Sharen, and daughter Sharelle entered the courtroom at 10:20 am — the elder Reid clad in a black jacket and grey trousers, while Sharelle wore a black sweater and black and white dress.
The duo sat between Reid and Professor Pinnock. The former Cabinet member exchanged words with his wife, quietly, throughout, smiling now and then, and even chuckling during the proceedings — seemingly at ease.
The husband and wife duo, from time to time, turned around to acknowledge individuals in the gallery whom they knew, including their teenage son Ruel Jr. Their daughter, however, remained still throughout most of the proceedings.
Jamaica Labour Party Councillor Kim Brown Lawrence, who had entered with the other women, shared the bench, but was detached and solemn throughout the proceedings.
Pinnock’s wife, an attorney-at-law, at one instance smiled encouragingly at her husband who smiled in return, and then held his head down briefly. At one point he turned around with a slight smile and gave a thumbs up to someone in the gallery area.
The case, which has sparked much talk and furore, did not seem to have drawn a crowd. Very few people milled around on the court’s premises. One vocal bystander, however, who claimed to hail from St Elizabeth like the former minister, said he was “sad about the whole thing, but justice must prevail”.
“Mi sorry fi the wife and the daughter,” he added, hastening to point out that he was not a Labourite. He expressed dismay that no member of the governing Jamaica Labour Party had come out to support Reid.