General

Supreme Court strikes out Castro misconduct case

By Aaron Humes
Freelancef Reporter

The misconduct case against Hon. Edmond Castro, the minister of state who allegedly violated the law by receiving about $80,000 from the Belize Airport Authority, was struck out on Monday.

Chief Justice Kenneth Benjamin dismissed the matter, saying that it was not reasonably grounded and cannot succeed.
Benjamin decided that Trevor Vernon, the Belize Rural North constituent who brought the matter before the court, had given no reasonable cause of action, because the allegations he made are dealt with under the private law provisions of the Civil Procedure Rules of the Supreme Court.

Vernon and attorney Philip Palacio had argued that the Minister’s alleged role in directly or indirectly receiving the funds from the BAA was a matter that should be determined by the court through declaratory orders affirming violations of the Code of Conduct, Section 121 of the Belize Constitution Act, and the Prevention of Corruption in Public Life Act.
Palacio conceded his disappointment but said that the matter remains largely unaddressed and it will be up to his client to decide whether to continue pursuing the matter in court or by other means.

A relieved Castro, represented by Senior Counsel Denys Barrow and Naima Barrow, only told reporters afterward that the matter had been “very stressful,” referring all other questions to his attorneys.

He jokingly told a reporter, “Okay, lawyer,” when challenged about the sudden end of the case on a “technicality.”
According to the Chief Justice, potential breaches of the Code of Conduct lack any punishment to be found elsewhere in the Constitution, and cannot be pursued under public law reliefs described in the Civil Procedure Rules.
Costs in this case of $5,000 must be paid by Vernon as the unsuccessful claimant before any other claim can proceed.

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