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#506078 - 07/24/15 03:04 AM OW Political Opponents Square Off In Court  
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 52,591
Marty Offline
Marty  Offline
In November of last year, the Cervantes family released that infamous phone call on national radio - the one accusing the Deputy Prime Minister Gaspar Vega of masterminding the murder of their patriarch, Ramon Cervantez Sr. Deputy Vega has vehemently denied the allegation - and today he took Ramon Jr - who is also his political opponent - to the Supreme Court to sue him for slander. Vega is also suing the the Briceno family's radio station, Fiesta FM, for libel - since they allegedly broadcasted the live press conference where the allegations were made.

The full hearing began today before Chief Justice Kenneth Benjamin.

Vega's attorney, Rodwell Williams opened up by reminding the court that Vega is the holder of high public office as the Deputy Prime Minister, and he is currently the acting Prime Minister.

Williams outlined in his submissions to the court that on in November of 2014, at Mameyal Farm in the Orange Walk District, the Cervantes family released a voice recording of a conversation where a man claiming to be Manuel Castillo, the wanted fugitive in the murder of Ramon Cervantes Sr, alleged that Vega orchestrated Ramon Sr's death. He said the recording makes the allegation that this was a political assassination and that Ramon Sr. was erroneously killed because the attackers were trying to target Ramon Monchie Cervantes. Finally in his submissions, Williams told the court that the recording makes the accusation that the Deputy Prime Minister is a corrupt person, corrupting the police, and that he is a criminal who is engaged in criminal activities.

Williams informed that court that this recording was broadcasted live to the nation via Fiesta FM, and Love FM, which is not being sued. Vega's intention, Williams said, is to prove that the allegations were baseless and sought to malign his reputation for political reasons.

In response, Monchie Cervantes' defense is that he denies that he allowed the recording to be published. He denied that the words or meaning alleged were defamatory. He asserts that the words were not to be understood to refer to Vega, and were not calculated to disparage Vega. He also denies any injury to Vega's reputation.

Alternatively, if the court does not accept that first line of defense, he is submitting that the voice recording was published, but it was done with qualified privilege, which protects him and his family from lawsuits of libel and slander.

Fiesta FM in defense of this claim for libel, denies that they published it over the airwaves. They are claiming that they only transmitted and reported on the event that the Cervantes Family hosted for 5 minutes before it was cut off, due to poor audio quality in their studios and other technical difficulties.

After that opening statement, the claimant, Gaspar Vega, took the witness stand. He was allowed to detail his case against the defendants, and when he was finished, he had to endure a lengthy cross-examination by Said Musa, attorney for Monchie, and Eamon Courtenay, attorney for Fiesta FM.

7News sat in the entire first day of the case, and when it was adjourned, we waited outside of court for an opportunity to speak with the litigants. Daniel Ortiz has the story:

Daniel Ortiz reporting
A little while later, Acting Prime Minister Gaspar Vega exited court after being grilled by the defense attorneys under cross-examination. His attorney spoke on his behalf, and he was brief with the questions he could take.

Daniel Ortiz
"Sir, can we beg you for a quick comment? We just want to ask you what was your intention to establish a case for Fiesta FM. That's all"

Eamon Courtenay, SC - Attorney for Fiesta FM

Daniel Ortiz
"Sir, can we ask you for a couple of questions."

Hon. Said Musa, SC - Attorney for the Cervantes Family
"The case is right the midst of things. We can't talk to you right now. Tomorrow."

Daniel Ortiz
"How is the case going in your opinion sir?"

Rodwell Williams, SC - Attorney for Gaspar Vega
"We are very conformable with the progress of the case so far. But it's of course as you are aware on its way it's close to ending. But we are quite comfortable and confident."

Daniel Ortiz
"What is the next step for you all in trying to establish Mr. Gapi's, the injury to his character?"

Rodwell Williams, SC - Attorney for Gaspar Vega
"We are not trying to. His character has been injured and that why we are here and to seek to vindicate the damage to his reputation."

Daniel Ortiz
"Mr. Vega, can we ask you for quick..."

Rodwell Williams, SC - Attorney for Gaspar Vega
"No questions Mr. Vega."

But, downstairs, Vega had a number of supporters waiting all morning for him. They were there to send a message. He quickly descended the steps of the courthouse and started greeting each one independently.

Among his crowd, he was a bit more comfortable in answering a few questions from the observing press.

Daniel Ortiz
"Talk to us about the support you have out here?"

Hon. Gaspar Vega - Suing Monchie Cervantes/Fiesta FM
"They just came because they heard of the case. Just came to give some moral support."

"How does it make you feel to have them out here?"

Hon. Gaspar Vega - Suing Monchie Cervantes/Fiesta FM
"Very special. I always say that God is always with me."

"These people are from Orange Walk North?"

Hon. Gaspar Vega - Suing Monchie Cervantes/Fiesta FM
"Orange Walk North, yes."

"Will they be here for the remainder of the case for you?"

Hon. Gaspar Vega - Suing Monchie Cervantes/Fiesta FM
"I don't know if they will be coming back, but I certainly don't intend to stop anyone from coming. Whoever wants to come, they can some."

"Is this something you needed?"

Hon. Gaspar Vega - Suing Monchie Cervantes/Fiesta FM
"I always needed the moral support of my people."

"As seen these people are out here for you, do you believe now that your character has been damaged?"

Hon. Gaspar Vega - Suing Monchie Cervantes/Fiesta FM
"Of course it has been damaged. I don't know, like I said earlier, I cannot speak about the case because I am still a witness. So I cannot mention anything about the case."

He eventually made his way to his vehicle, and the waiting crowd… well they got into 2 chartered Albion Transport buses. Now, Vega said that they came to support him. Albion Transport is a commercial bus-line, so, it's not so far a stretch to reason that someone footed the bill of the transportation. If that is so, then that would mean that these supporters were brought from Orange Walk North, most-likely for political fanfare.

But, the good minister says he genuinely has their support, and so..we take him at his word.

In court today, Vega and his attorney attempted to get a CD with a copy of the recording of the explosive phone conversation admitted as evidence in this case. Eamon Courtenay objected on the grounds that this recording, which Vega says came from Love FM, has to be verified. He added that if it is verified as originating from Love FM, it is irrelevant in this case because Love FM is not a party to this lawsuit. Courtenay also submitted that Fiesta FM denies that it aired the recording, and it is for the claimant to establish that they did broadcast it.

After consideration Chief Justice Benjamin allowed the recording, with no prejudice to Fiesta FM, since the claimant still needs to prove that they broadcasted the contents.

As we told you, another witness was called who Courtenay cross-examined. He eventually revealed that Fiesta FM was having technical difficulties.

The case continues tomorrow.

Channel 7

#508468 - 10/22/15 03:35 AM Re: OW Political Opponents Square Off In Court [Re: Marty]  
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 52,591
Marty Offline
Marty  Offline

WHO dunnit!? Ramon Cervantez Sr.’s Murder Trial Takes Bizarre Shift

And that’s not the only political story coming out of far left field tonight. The other happened in Orange Walk Magistrate’s Court today. It was the preliminary inquiry into the murder of Ramon Cervantez Sr. – the Orange Walk businessman and politician’s father who was murdered in July of 2014. Three men were accused of the crime: 22 year-old Guatemalan Noe Daniel Avila; 19 year-old Belizean Angel Antonio Cardenas, and 28 year-old Belizean Mateo Pott Jr.

It should have been just a procedural hearing where Munchy Cervantez, his mother and sister were asked to be in court. But things took a most unexpected turn. One of the accused men turned around and accused Ramon Munchie Cervantez Jr of orchestrating his own father’s murder! Here’s how it went – according to court reports. While one of the accused was on the witness stand, he asked the magistrate for permission to say something. Magistrate Merlene Moody permitted him, and he said that the person who sent him to kill Cervantez is right in this courtroom. The magistrate asked if he could show her who that person is. He said yes and pointed at Ramon Munchie Cervantez Jr – saying he is the one who sent him to kill his father. When that happened we are told, the courtroom broke out into an uproar. The magistrate cleared the courtroom of everyone except for the Cervantez family and the accused men. From what we are told the Magistrate then heard the statement and did not accept it – though there is some debate about this point. Whatever the case, it was a sensational day in court, and another stunning twist in this case which has taken many very unusual turns – not least of which is the phone recording which alleged that Munchy Cervantez’s political opponent Deputy Prime Minister Gaspar Vega is the one who orchestrated the murder. But now, the shoe is suddenly on the other foot – and with just two weeks to go before election – we had to ask – is this just another orchestration of political gamesmanship? Here’s what Vega had to say about that:…

Gaspar Vega - Deputy Prime Minister

"I have just heard it just now. I don't know what's going on."

Jules Vasquez

"Now it was thrown out of court I'm hearing but the allegations by munchy is that it's pure politics and the suggestion is that it's your camp playing some serious politics."

Gaspar Vega - Deputy Prime Minister

"I don't know if I should even answer that. If you notice my campaign throughout my campaign I don't even try to mention that guy's name much less use that type of politics. It's not in my nature."

Jules Vasquez

"Now sir, this is an event that has changed your life in terms of you have been accused of orchestrating murder, publicly. And it has changed your life. Explain to me how difficult it is to take that load into this election?"

Gaspar Vega - Deputy Prime Minister

"Well it's difficult mostly with my kids, especially the younger ones because they've been attacked. It's the first time that my kids, and when I say kids, 12 year and 14 year kids, get attacks because of politics."

Jules Vasquez

"You mean verbally attacked?"

Gaspar Vega - Deputy Prime Minister

"Verbally, send text and play games with them. But I leave it in the hands of god. Yes it's been heavy and I hope that no one else plays games like those because it's not good for the entire community if we start to make that type of political games. And every day or every time we have campaigns its common practice."

Jules Vasquez

"Sir if these 2 persons making this complaint are running again, so to speak, you're saying you do not endorse it or you actually don't want it to happen?"

Gaspar Vega - Deputy Prime Minister

"By no means; I know what I have been through being accused of orchestrating or being involved in murder and I wouldn't wish that on anyone."

We could not reach Munchy Cervantez for comment today despite numerous calls to his phone.

Channel 7

Gaspar Vega Responds to Murder Accusations

Today in the Orange Walk Court, one of the men on remand for the murder of Ramon Cervantes Senior made an accusation against Ramon Cervantes Jr. The elder Cervantes’ body was found in a shallow grave on a farm in the Indian Hill area of the Orange Walk District last year. Three men, Mateo Pott, Angel Cardenas and Noe Daniel Gonzales were charged for his murder along with his kidnapping. The man, who is accused of masterminding the entire devious plot, Manuel Castillo, is still wanted by police in regards to that investigation and the accusation that had both Ramon Cervantes Jr and his political opponent, Gaspar Vega in the supreme court of Belize. During a memorial service, a recording was played believed to be a conversation between Cervantes’ widow and a man purporting to be Manuel Castillo. In that recording Castillo accused Vega of being involved in the murder of Cervantes Sr. However, today during the preliminary inquiry, things took a 360 degrees turn when one of the accused reportedly stood up in court and accused Cervantes Jr. We spoke with the attorney for the Cervantes family, Marcel Cardona on the latest development.


“Accusations can be made by virtually anyone. An accusation can even be made by an accused person who was found clearly in a very compromising situation, yes that person may choose perhaps quite foolishly so to make a further false allegation trying to in some way or try to do somebody’s political dirt work. I must say to you that the magistrate dealt with this, he made it clear that if any of the defendants had anything to say in his or her defense they would be at liberty to do so whenever their trial arose and so since she has already committed these proceedings to supreme court or committed the defendants to stand trial at the supreme court they will be at liberty to at that point in time when they are being tried to raise any and every issue that they wish to raise. It would then be in the pervue of the Supreme Court, of the judge and jury to decide whether it is that they believe them or they disbelieve them in totality.”


“With all of this said there are indications that an investigation will be opened as a result of that accusation made today.”


“An investigation can be opened in relation to anything. Remember somebody can make an accusation against you or me and then it is obviously left up to the police for them to act in a responsible professional manner, in an unbiased manner and for them to conduct themselves professionally without fear or favor, without trying to take sides in any political issue and without them trying to basically be biased in relation to an issue and then for them to act impartially and then for them to get to the real bottom of it and for them to see whether the allegation happened in legal or factual foundation or if there is total fabrication.”

During this morning’s launch of the UDP Manifesto, the media got a comment from Orange Walk North Area Representative and Deputy Prime Minister, Gaspar Vega. He also heard about the accusation made in court this morning. And you heard, Cardona alluded that this might be political mischief coming from the Vega Camp. So Vega was asked about that…


“I have just heard it right now I don’t know what is going on. “


“It was thrown out of court I’m hearing but the allegation by Munchi is that its pure politics and the suggestion is that it is your camp playing some serious politics.”


“I don’t know if I should even answer that. If you notice that throughout my campaign I don’t even try to mention that guy’s name much less use that type of politics, it’s not in my nature.”


“Now this is an event that has changed your life in terms of you have been accused of orchestrating murder and it has changed your life. Explain to me how difficult it is to take that load into this election.”


“Well it’s difficult mostly with my kids especially the younger ones because they’ve been attacked. It’s the first time that my kids and when I say kids I mean 12 year and 14 year old kids get attacked because of politics, verbally, by text and play games with them but I leave it in the hands of God. Yes it has been heavy and I hope that no one else plays games like those because it’s not good for the entire community if you start to make that type of political games an everyday common practice.”


“So, if these two persons making this complaint are running again you are saying that you do not endorse it or you actually don’t want it to happen.”


“By no means. I know what I have been through being accused of orchestrating or being involved with murder and I don’t wish that on anyone.”

We will keep following this story.


#508496 - 10/23/15 04:55 AM Re: OW Political Opponents Square Off In Court [Re: Marty]  
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 52,591
Marty Offline
Marty  Offline

Monchie And Family Deny Murder Claim

Last night we told you the sensational news that Ramon Monchie Cervantez had been accused of orchestrating the murder of his own father. The man making the allegation was one of those accused of killing his father, Ramon Sr in July of 2014.

Things took an incredible and unexpected turn in Orange Walk Magistrate's Court for the preliminary inquiry yesterday, when Noe Daniel Gonzales told the magistrate that the man who orchestrated the murder was in the courtroom. When asked to point to that person, he pointed to Ramon Monchie Cervantez. In so doing Gonzales also admitted to being involved in the murder.

Like we said…incredible…the kind of courtroom drama that you thought only happens in movies. But it happened in court yesterday in one of the most high profile murder trials ever in Belize. Today, Ramon Monchie Cervantez, his mother Vilma and his sister Marisa who were all in court had a press conference in Orange Walk to publicly reject the accusation. Here's what they said:..

Ramon "Monchie" Cervantez, Denies Accusation of Orchestrating Murder
"Frankly I was taken aback, because it's a lie. It's false. It's malicious. Completely false. I don't even know the guy. The first time I saw him was like when they were arrested for my father's murder. But I know it's a lie. My conscious is clear and it's just shows the depth to which politics has gone."

Vilma Cervantez, Wife of Ramon Sr.
"Well I know this is maliciousness - political maliciousness and I know Monchie would never do something like that, because he and his dad were always working together."

Jules Vasquez
"I guess the implications was that you would have had something to gain from his estate."

Ramon "Monchie" Cervantez
"No. All assets or 90% of our assets are in the names of my mom and my father."

"Yesterday Mr. Vega denies that ascertain that he had to do with..."

Ramon "Monchie" Cervantez
"Well it's obvious that he will deny it."

Jules Vasquez
"When Mr. Vega was accused, he said that it was all made up by you to gain a political advantage. Now you are being accused and you are saying it is made up by him or orchestrated by him to gain a political advantage. You realize how the public sees this."

Ramon "Monchie" Cervantez
"There is a difference. Exactly, there is the difference. I have lost my father. My sister had lost their father. My mom has lost her husband."

Vilma Cervantez, Wife of Ramon Sr.
"The accused has been sitting in prison for 16 months. Who have had access to them? Who has visited them? Who has communication with them? Why did they not make those accusations from the beginning?"

Jules Vasquez
"So then your narrative is that someone would have had to gotten to this accused person in jail, because Sugar City radio is not heard at the Hattieville Prison? So someone would have had to gotten to him in jail and planted this narrative for him to tell."

Ramon "Monchie" Cervantez
"Well there are many ways. I mean they could have messengers. It could have gotten to him somehow. I expect that they are concocting on what ways how they can arrest me. As we speak that's what I expect of them - that they are concocting on many ways of how they can arrest me and have me out of the race or keep my mouth shut. What we are saying is that we have the faith that over time things will start coming out and we have the faith that the truth - if it takes a lifetime, the truth will come out. We live with that faith that someday we will know the whole story."

Vilma Cervantez, Wife of Ramon Sr.
"The power of God and the support of the people strengthens our family to combat all evil. I thank you."

And so while Monchie Cervantez and his family have rejected the allegations, his accuser Noe Daniel Gonzales stands by his claim. Yesterday in court, Magistrate Merlene Moody told him that if he has anything to say in his defence, he can do so when the case goes to the Supreme Court for the full trial - but it could not be entertained at the lower Court. The case has been committed for trial at the Supreme Court, so now we'll have to wait and see where it goes from here.

As you heard last night, Cervantez's opponent Gaspar Vega denied any knowledge of or involvement in Noe Daniel Gonzales's accusing Monchie Cervantez.

Channel 7


Today Ramon “Monchi” Cervantes Jr., the PUP Standard Bearer for Orange Walk North, broke silence and spoke to the media about what actually happened in court yesterday during the preliminary inquiry into the murder of his father Ramon Cervantes Sr.

#509087 - 11/13/15 05:12 AM Re: OW Political Opponents Square Off In Court [Re: Marty]  
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 52,591
Marty Offline
Marty  Offline

Gapi And Monchie’s Last Face Off In Court?

The political battle in Orange Walk North between Gaspar Vega and Monchi Cervantes has been decided in Vega's favor. Right now, however, the battle in the Supreme Court continues without any declared winner.

The lawsuit, filed by Vega against Cervantes for slander, went back before the Chief Justice Kenneth Benjamin this morning. As viewers are well aware, Vega is defending his reputation against a tape released on national radio by the Cervantes Family in which the Deputy Prime Minister was accused of masterminding Ramon Senior's brutal killing.

The lawyers today made final submissions to chief justice Kenneth Benjamin. Rodwell Williams, who is representing Vega, focused his legal arguments on evidence in the case where he asserts that libel and slander had been proven against both defendants. Eamon Courtenay, attorney for Fiesta FM - who's being sued for libel, focused his submission on evidence presented that while his client did broadcast a portion of Cervantes family memorial service, the actual defamatory tape did not air on their radio station because they had technical difficulty in their studios. Said Musa, who is Monchi's attorney, focused on the assertion that the claimants had not proven their case against his client. He paid special attention to the fact that while the other side asserts that this defamatory tape that exists, it has not been played in open court, and so there is nothing for the judge to decide on against Cervantes.

This was the very last hearing before Chief Justice Benjamin reserved judgement to be handed down at a later date. As soon as the 4 hours arguments were completed, we spoke to both sides right outside of court. Daniel Ortiz reports:

Daniel Ortiz reporting
Four hours... that's how long these supporters of Gaspar Vega waited for him out in the sun this morning.

As soon as he and his wife exited, they greeted him warmly, apparently not the least bit bothered the extended pause to have the court hearing run its course.

Daniel Ortiz
"Are you satisfied with how the case has gone?"

Hon. Gaspar Vega, Deputy Prime Minister - Suing Ramon Cervantes Jr.
"I am satisfied with what I have done. I don't have any control over the case. The right thing for me to do was to take this to court, because I don't think anyone should have allowed such defamation assassination of character by any means. So with that I am satisfied."

Daniel Ortiz
"Do you think that you will have a favorable outcome? Are you expecting a favorable outcome?"

Hon. Gaspar Vega
"Of course I do. I sincerely do."

Rodwell Williams, Attorney for Gaspar Vega
"This whole case is basically based on what is called secondary evidence as you heard. Our being able to use the evidence of people who heard including Minister Vega, who heard the broadcast of the conversation and seek to understood the Spanish language and then seek to share what they heard and we say that we don't have to eciphima word for word plea and prove what was said. Once what we plea is there and we were pleaing was put there in Spanish of what we say was said and nobody else say anything to the contrary that was not said."

But, the other side are convinced that they have nothing to fear, that this case will be dismissed, and the two defendants will be vindicated:

Rt. Hon. Said Musa, SC - Attorney for Ramon Cervantes Jr.
"No primary evidence of any such tape evidence. There was no tape in evidence. No iPhone recording in evidence. All that is in evidence is what we called secondary statements made by witnesses who heard a portion of what took place at the farm. Very inadequate as presented by the claimant."

Ramon Cervantes Jr., Defendant
"Like the attorney said the claimant has failed to prove his case against me and there is no primary evidence to substantiate what he is claiming against me."

Eamon Courtenay, SC, Representing 2nd Defendant, Fiesta FM
"There is no evidence before the court that my client Fiesta FM broadcast this allege statements against Minister Vega. They have no proven it. They try to get it in through Kelly Guzman, through a transcript. Again, the judge rule that that was not admissible. So the submissions were made to the court this morning was that in the absence of that evidence, Mr. Vega cannot succeed in his claim against my client for liable. Sounds very technical, but liable is a technical area of the law."

Whatever the outcome Vega believes that he did the right thing by pressing the case

Hon. Gaspar Vega
"I didn't bring this court because of the elections. I brought it to court because I am convinced that that was the most appropriate and rightful thing to do for any, not only Belizean, but any person with dignity to do."

Daniel Ortiz
"I am making the point or I am asking you that it has apparently had no negative effect on you with your people in Orange Walk North. Is that an assessment you make as well?"

Hon. Gaspar Vega
"I never had a doubt that it would have had an impact."

Chief Justice Benjamin has revered judgment to be delivered on December 22. When that decision has been handed down, we'll tell you what it is.

Channel 7

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