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#313911 - 12/06/08 11:01 AM Musa charged with US$10m theft
Marty Online   happy
BELMOPAN, Belize: Former Prime Minister of Belize Said Musa has been charged with stealing US$10 million.

The charge relates to a grant from Venezuela that was intended for the construction and repair of houses for poor Belizeans.

Director of Public Prosecutions, Cheryl-Lynn Branker-Taitt, alleged that Musa, whose People's United Party (PUP) was in office when funds were received from the Hugo Chávez administration in Venezuela in December 2007, gave directives for the money to be used to settle a debt by a private health institution - Universal Health Services.

Said Musa, former Prime Minister of Belize
The former prime minister, who was swept from office in the February 7 general elections, issued a statement last week in which he said his actions were motivated by a desire to save a tertiary care health facility and that, while the public may not agree with that decision, he did not commit a crime.

Musa said that he is innocent of the charges and alleges "that the regime is trying to harass me, trying to shame me, but in face they are shaming themselves because they are dragging our country, Belize, down to the level of a failed state, where a rogue totalitarian regime is subverting the justice system, controlling the justice system, and using it and instructing people to use it to persecute and to jail their political opponents."

Musa told Belize 5 News that he was not worried about the charge and added, "What is very worrying is the amount of victimisation that is going on in our country This is the distraction that they are trying to create from the major political victimisation against hundreds of innocent people, many single mothers can’t even feed their babies today because of this vindictive government who have taken away people from their jobs."

The former Prime Minister told Belize News 5, "I acted in good faith always when I secured the grants from Venezuela for the benefit of the Belizean people."

A large crowd turned up at court to support the former Prime Minister, who was placed on US$100,000 bail.

If convicted, Musa could spend a maximum of 10 years in jail.

Marty Online   happy

December 05, 2008

The tide in Belmopan changed dramatically this morning where a considerably small gathering of friends and family assembled in front of the Belmopan Police Department awaiting the arrival of former Minister of Housing Ralph Fonseca. Fonseca entered the police station inconspicuously where he was legally arrested and escorted to the magistrate’s court. Fonseca’s arrest is the second of two arrests made against former PUP ministers accused of stealing ten million U.S. dollars granted to Belizeans last year by the government of Venezuela. While the former party leader’s arrest yesterday was met with the support of his constituents as well as elder statesmen of the nation’s oldest political party things today were noticeably different for Fonseca. During the procession from the police station to the Magistrate’s Court he was jeered by onlookers who reminded him of all the wrongdoings they endured during the PUP’s terms in office. The procession included party notables Florencio Marin Sr. and Jr., Luke Espat, Cassian Nunez, Vildo Marin, David Fonseca among others. In Court, Magistrate Earl Jones read to Fonseca a single charge of theft stemming from a grant that was given to Belizeans by Venezuela which was to have been used for various housing projects. Instead the money was used to finance a private loan involving Universal Health Services. Fonseca, represented by a smaller panel of lawyers, was given and met bail in the sum of one hundred thousand dollars plus a surety of the same amount. In a strange twist to what many thought was rather ironic is the fact that Fonseca is being represented by lead attorney Michael Peyrefitte. He is also defended by Francis Fonseca and Richard ‘Dickie’ Bradley. Ironic because Fonseca maintains that the proceedings are a result of political victimization carried out against former PUP ministers; however, his key lawyer is a known UDP supporter who ran against and lost to Francis Fonseca in this year’s general elections. We caught up with Fonseca as he left the Magistrates Court.
Ralph Fonseca, Former Government Minister

“This is yet another outrageous, yet characteristic UDP political persecution. Anyone, anyone at all that knows the real facts will also know that this charge is ridiculous. I am confident, and I have been assured by my legal counsel that this will be proven to be ridiculous. You all know for the last 20 years I have been in the center of the greatest political movement in Belize. We have won many battles and we have built Belize for the benefit of hundreds of thousands of Belizeans. In the process we gained many fantastic friends but we also made many dangerous enemies. Those enemies must realize that I know exactly who they are and I will be praying for all of them that they be relieved of that pain from which they suffer, from the hate of Ralph Fonseca and his accomplishments.”

We also spoke with attorney Michael Peyrefitte who explained to us the nature of the case brought against his client.

Michael Peyrefitte, Attorney at law

“A client of mine has been charged with an offense under the law, it is an indictable offence. We come back January 16 and we see what the prosecution has for us. We are not responsible for the charges that are brought; the crown is responsible for the charges. The legal ramifications of the charges will be played out in court.”

According to the Director of Public Prosecutions, Cheryl Lynn Branker-Tait the case against Fonseca is straightforward as it relates to the same charge levied against former Prime Minister Said Musa. The case has been adjourned until January 16th next year.

Short Offline
Well, Ralph is off the hook, sort of as predicted by Godfrey Smith in his article: " The Juice and Biscuits Trial" ...

Originally Posted By: Channel 7
Ralph Fonseca Vindicated in Magistrate's Court

He was accused of the theft of $20 million in public funds, but today Ralph Fonseca walked out of Belmopan Magistrate’s Court clear of that charge. It was the conclusion of the preliminary inquiry into the charge where Magistrate Earl Jones had to determine if there was enough evidence to take the matter to the Supreme Court. In a very brief judgement issued this morning, Earl Jones found that there was not sufficient evidence in the documents presented to the court to establish a prima facie case against Fonseca. With that, the case against him was discharged. And so, unlike his former Prime Minister Said Musa, Ralph Fonseca will not stand trial in the Supreme Court. Fonseca was relieved when he left the courtroom, but still had a few jabs for his opponents.

Ralph Fonseca, Cleared of Theft Charge

“Well it has to feel good. First of all I want to thank all the people that called and text and emailed and expressed their support for me I would like to offer them something. And those that didn’t, I’m busy. I will continue to pray for my enemies. From within and without, I think the people of Belize know what this case was all about and I am glad that justice has been served. I hope that our previous Prime Minister also gets cleared as quickly as is possible. I am also happy that the people that are involved with the case are now relieved of this because I can imagine the pressure that they were under and I thank the media in general for being fairly balanced as it relates to this, even if uncharacteristically so Jules. Thank you very much.”

Live and let live

#327862 - 03/12/09 12:33 AM Re: Former prime minister charged with Theft in Be [Re: Short]
Short Offline
Said Musa wins 1st round; CJ grants judicial review

Chief Justice Abdulai Conteh today granted former Prime Minister Said Musa judicial review of Magistrate Earl Jones’ decision to commit him to stand trial in the Supreme Court. Musa is charged with Theft in connection with a gift of ten million US dollars from Venezuela to the government of Belize, an issue that has dominated the news for more than a year. Today Lawyers for Musa presented their arguments on several grounds: that Magistrate Jones erred on February tenth when he took into consideration inadmissible evidence; that he wrongly assumed jurisdiction; that the decision was irrational and unreasonable since he did not commit Ralph Fonseca, who was facing the exact same charge to stand trial. In making his ruling, the C.J. said “I am satisfied that permission should be given to review the Magistrate’s decision. The Magistrate wrongfully assumed jurisdiction. The decision was irrational and I therefore grant permission, having read the papers and listened to the arguments”. And while Musa remained calm in court as the ruling was being delivered, outside he spoke briefly of his optimism, while two of his lawyers, Lisa Shoman and Anthony Sylvestre Junior explained how they managed to convince the court to rule in their favour.

Lisa Shoman, Attorney for Said Musa

“The CJ pointed out that it is not always usual to grant judicial review leave in this kind of circumstances, meaning in looking to quash a Magistrate’s Court decision. But in this case there were some very important circumstances which he looked at which we filed all the affidavits and all the papers for and which we were relying on to get permission on. That’s why he has granted us leave to seek judicial review. It’s not a matter of the flood gates being opened but a matter of the particular circumstances in this case why permission for judicial review has been granted.”

Anthony Sylvestre, Attorney for Said Musa

“The documents before the court, really and truly, are not in the proper form. So based on that the court was obliged and the court felt in the circumstances to grant leave. We’ve said from the outset that there is no case against Mr. Musa and what transpired today and the Chief Justice’s granting of permission to review the decision of the Magistrate is proof that there is not any case against Mr. Musa.”

Lisa Shoman
“It is a confirmation that indeed our case is as strong as we had always said, that it is and it is not simply not a matter of the Magistrate looking at evidence which is inadmissible. That is one thing, and certainly bad enough. But under the circumstances relying on the fact which were relied on, as you know Mr. Fonseca has been discharged. And as we have been saying all along, Mr. Musa should not have been committed to stand trial in this manner. And we are going to look forward to arguing the full panoply of the grounds before us and we feel extremely confident about that. What you have seen here today is certainly confirmation that the D.P.P. and anybody else acting on the government’s behalf knows very well that not only do we have a very, very strong case to stand but really, they would not have been able to proffer too many, if at all, compelling reasons why leave should not have been granted.”

Said Musa, Granted Judicial Review
“Am very pleased that we passed the first hurdle. But of course the substantive arguments are still to be heard.”

And while the Director of Public Prosecutions, Cheryl-Lyn Branker-Taitt, was otherwise occupied and not present in the C.J.’s court, her representative, Prosecutor Priscilla Banner, provided a typed letter from the D.P.P. requesting for an adjournment early in the morning. That letter, written on the Attorney General’s office letterhead, prompted the C.J. to state his views that using a letterhead that was not of her own office suggested that her office was not acting independently. The matter was initially adjourned until three this afternoon but during the break, Crown Counsel Banner met with Lead Attorney for Musa, Senior Counsel Edwin Flowers to inform him that the D.P.P. had decided to concede that leave be granted for Musa to be allowed Judicial Review. The case was then pushed up to eleven-thirty this morning and dates were set for written submissions to be filed by April twentieth and the hearing for April twenty-seventh.

Live and let live

#340787 - 06/09/09 09:46 PM Re: Former prime minister charged with Theft in Be [Re: Short]
Short Offline
There we go: Musa is freed of theft charge and while the courthouse took on the air of a political carnaval , with applause and a parade of (mostly old guard) PUP politicians, the Director of Public Prosecutions Cheryl Lynn Branker Taitt announced she plans to appeal the Chief Justice’s decision.
Live and let live

#340789 - 06/09/09 10:08 PM Re: Former prime minister charged with Theft in Be [Re: Short]
SP Daily Offline
As well she should!!!!!!

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