The Belize Court of Appeal will not make any judgements in the BTL/BEL appeal case, until the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) decides if Appeal Justice Samuel Awich should recuse himself from the case.
The so-called Ashcroft Alliance’s attorneys requested that Awich recuse himself from the case when the three-day trial began on Monday, October 8. Queen’s Counsel, Nigel Pleming, representing the British Caribbean Bank (BCB) in the constitutional case, reiterated the request on Tuesday.
The Court of Appeal President Justice Manuel Sosa announced that the court has granted leave for the Ashcroft Alliance’s attorneys to take the matter of the panel’s composition to the CCJ. He explained that the court would will continue hearing the case, but would not make a ruling until after the CCJ rules on whether or not Awich should be hearing the case.
The final arguments were heard on Wednesday in the BTL/BEL case, which is an appeal from a decision by Supreme Court Justice Oswald Legall. The Ashcroft attorneys now have one week to file their papers to the CCJ.
The Ashcroft Alliance objected to Awich being a member of the panel of judges because there is an appearance of bias.
After Awich was promoted to the Court of Appeal in July, Lord Michael Ashcroft along with BCB filed papers with the Belize Advisory Council for his removal.
The Belize Bar Association and the Leader of the Opposition also opposed Awich’s appointment. The Bar Association’s cited Awich’s excessive delays in delivering judgments, as misconduct of a judge in office.
Justice Awich had served as Belize’s Acting Chief Justice, when the tenure of Chief Justice Abdulai Conteh ended and a new C.J. was being sought.