At certain points during the past four weeks, the trial of McKeeva Bush seemed like the biggest ticket in town.
The courthouse was packed on Wednesday and Thursday as the jury considered its verdicts and the two-year saga of the former premier’s arrest and investigation and the trial moved toward a conclusion.
On key days during the trial, every seat in the public gallery was occupied, mostly with people who were open about their support of the United Democratic Party leader.
For much of the time, the large crowd was well behaved, listening in silence through lengthy, sometimes complex testimony. But on more than one occasion the judge felt it necessary to call for quiet in the gallery as key pieces of evidence were greeted with derisive laughter or gasps of shock.
Geoffrey Cox, QC, the lawyer and British MP representing Mr. Bush, was a favorite of the assorted supporters of the former premier. His theatrical style and booming voice, as well as his merciless interrogation of witnesses, drew admiration from the more partisan observers.
Several local lawyers flitted in and out of the trial, taking the opportunity to watch the famed barrister or his opponent on the prosecution side, Duncan Penny, QC, at work.
The evidence of former Deputy Governor Franz Manderson was perhaps the most dramatic day of the trial, with every seat taken as Mr. Cox read out the now infamous emails from former governor Duncan Taylor to support the defense’s contention that the former premier was the victim of a conspiracy.
The content of those messages, particularly Mr. Taylor’s comment that it was a “good day for Cayman” when Mr. Bush was charged, drew tuts of disapproval from the crowd.
Other days were quieter, though a loyal audience of around 10 observers were in court almost every day.
Mr. Bush appeared relaxed throughout, shaking hands and chatting with people on the courthouse steps each day.
Several of his UDP colleagues made regular appearances. Other regulars said they had taken time off work to watch. A frequent suggestion from many was that the trial should have been televised to allow more Cayman Islands residents to witness the proceedings.
Others believed it was more than a coincidence that a visiting Royal British Navy ship was calling into George Town harbor on the day a verdict was expected in the controversial trial that, at least according to one version of events, has pitted an elected premier of the Cayman Islands in opposition to a British appointed governor.