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By Latrishka Thomas

“Not guilty!” the three former Cabinet Ministers accused of corruption, conversion and embezzlement declared lustily as they were arraigned.

Former finance minister Harold Lovell and two of his former United Progressive Party (UPP) colleagues, Dr Jacqui Quinn and Wilmoth Daniel, appeared before Justice Colin Williams in the High Court yesterday.

Some of their friends, family, and political colleagues sat behind them in support.

The trio was represented by Attorney Leon Chaku Symister.

After they were arraigned, the judge set their trial date for June 14, should the court begin to hear trials by that time.

The former ministers are charged in relation to three Daewoo buses worth $218,520 each, that had been donated to the former UPP administration by the government of Korea.

They allegedly converted the buses for their personal use and had them registered at the Antigua and Barbuda Transport Board, in their names, while they were in public office.

Lovell is believed to have committed the offence between 24th April and 28th November 2008, while Dr Quinn is said to have committed the crime between 24th April 2008 and 3rd December 2008.

Daniel reportedly converted a bus between 24th April 2008 and 13th June 2008. They are all charged separately.

In 2017, Magistrate Conliffe Clarke dismissed the case citing insufficient evidence.

Director of Public Prosecutions Anthony Armstrong then appealed the magistrate’s decision on an issue of improper application of procedure, and their lawyers fought in the Court of Appeal for the magistrate’s ruling to be upheld.

However, the appellate court agreed with the DPP’s arguments and overturned the decision.

Armstrong refiled the case in 2019.

As a result, the case was brought back before a different magistrate, Chief Magistrate Joanne Walsh, who declared that there was enough prima facie evidence against the three accused and, in June, 2020, she committed the matter to the High Court.