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Joined: Oct 1999
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Marty Offline OP
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It is the third politician to be charged with criminal offences by the U.D.P. government in this term. But on Thursday, it will be the first time in history that a serving Mayor, a female at that, will be paraded to the Queen Street Police Station to be processed and taken to court to hear her charges. But Mayor Zenaida Moya Flowers will not be the only one facing the music. Three senior members of her finance team will also be arraigned on criminal charges. All heads of the Finance Department, including the City Administrator, Dr. Kiran Vanjani, along with Finance Director, Dwain Davis and his Assistant Director, Kiran Bhudrani are due in court. The slew of charges is yet to be confirmed and Mayor Moya Flowers' battery of attorneys has stepped up the ante in her defense. On Tuesday Hubert Elrington had choice words about the prime minister and today Attorney Michael Peyrefitte matter-of-factly told News Five what he expects in the next twenty-four hours.

Michael Peyrefitte, Lead Defense Attorney, Mayor Zenaida Moya Flowers
"My most important concern is the procedure when we go to meet Mr. Segura at the Queen Street Police Station tomorrow morning at nine-thirty. We have been working out the logistics as to, we're gonna take the mayor and other people there and meet with Mr. Segura and he is going to do the charge and everything that comes with that. He and I have not yet discussed and he doesn't have to disclose to me at this point what the charges will be so I don't know what the charges are. He has not told me how many charges there are. All he told me was that there are charges for the mayor and so he would appreciate it if I would bring the Mayor there tomorrow morning, nine-thirty. We won't know what the situation is until we actually see the charge and we have the charge or charges in our hands. So the defense will be based on the charge itself and whatever evidence the Crown brings to support those charges. I don't want to speculate; like I said, I don't even know. I will have a better idea of it when I get the charge sheet and then later on down the road, I get the evidence to supposedly support the charge. But we have to look at all of that first. It may very well be that these charges have nothing to do with under-depositing. It may very well be that they have everything to do with under-depositing. We don't know yet so we have to wait until we get the charges and we get the evidence because we can speculate on invoices and receipts but what if when we go to court, those are not disclosed? Those would be of no holding so it doesn't make any sense to speculate on them. The most important thing right now is for the mayor to know that she will be charged. She will be technically arrested, charged, taken over to court and she will be read charges. I don't know if some of them will be indictable, I don't know if some of them will be summary. I don't know yet. But the number one thing is to get her to the police station tomorrow morning at nine-thirty, go with her to court and to, as quickly as possible, be done with court."

Mayor Issues Press Statement

And tonight finally we have some comment from the Mayor herself who issued a press statement today. It is a lengthy statement –three whole pages, but the central points are first, that no money is missing, the charges are trumped up, and that the attack on her is from the Minister of Finance – Prime Minister Dean Barrow and the leadership of her own party who does not have the support of the party’s rank and file. The release – which is almost one-thousand five-hundred words long – does not once use the term “under-deposits.”

It does however say that all those documents presented by the Mayor to the media on July 14th comprise quotations and estimates, invoices, post-it notes, requisition forms, claim forms and memos with receipts. The release explains that the special auditor refused to confirm those documents as legitimate – which, “is regrettable, as the Finance Department has confirmed that those documents were what they made payments on.”

So that’s it, the proof of how public funds were disbursed in cash is in the form of and we quote, again, “estimates, invoices, post-it notes, requisition forms, claim forms and memos with receipts.”

The release also deals at length with the amended city council regulations which require the council to get permission form the financial controller to make payments greater than fifty dollars. When it was passed, we called it the managing Mayor Moya bill because it was clearly an attempt by central government to reign in what they felt was a rogue mayor.

Well Mayor Moya’s release says that the law, “is both impractical and a slap in the face of a duly elected City Council. The release says that because the mayor resisted this and stood up to the Minister of Finance, “this has caused (him) to declare war on her...” On this subject it concludes that “there has been a public trial of the Mayor and the Belize City Council by rumour and innuendos led by the Minister of Finance and his minion Patrick Tillett.” Thereafter it proceeds to quote scripture.

Serious business and previews of what promises to be a very public war between Moya and the Minister of Finance. The real fireworks begin tomorrow and of course, 7News will be there.

Joined: Oct 1999
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Marty Offline OP
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Mayor Moya Retains Attorney Michael Peyrefitte

And the man accompanying Moya to court will be attorney Michael Peyrefitte. Peyrefitte has previously defended at least one high profile former public official accused of mismanagement of public funds and that’s Ralph Fonseca. But Fonseca was charged after leaving government in the time of a government led by his political opponents; Moya is being charged as the sitting UDP Mayor under a UDP government. It’s a first, but today when we spoke to Peyrefitte, he was nonplussed; he said he does not know what the charge is but is ready for whatever.

Michael Peyrefitte, Attorney for Zenaida Moya
“I don’t want to presuppose what the charges will be because I don’t know but I approach every case soberly and without emotion and I would just simply look at what the charges are. If they are not supported by the evidence, if they are not good charges, I will make my submissions.”

Jules Vasquez,
“Have you investigated an amendment to the Belize City Council Act in so far as what we at Channel 7 called the Managing Mayor Moya Bill which sought to change the powers of oversight by the Minister of Finance? Have you investigated that because as we understand she is being charged for failure to comply with those regulations?”

Michael Peyrefitte,
“Yes I have studied the regulations but like I said I don’t know what the charges are. The regulations are very clear and we will have to see if she is charged pursuant to those regulations whether or not there is enough evidence to support the charge. But like I said I have no idea of what the charges are.

I know usually when charges are made of this nature, sometimes the people who are charging run the risk of putting emotion into it and naturally sometimes they make the mistake of putting the most entertaining charge instead of putting the proper charge. I am not saying that is going to be done in this case. I am saying that whatever charge they put, that is what we’ll be looking at and for their sake, they better have the evidence to back up that particular charge.”

Jules Vasquez,
“You ran for the UDP as a general election candidate in the last election. Are you surprised or dismayed as may be the case that under a UDP government a UDP Mayor is being charged for mismanagement of public funds?”

Michael Peyrefitte,
“Well in this life Jules very little surprises me anymore but I am not that politically sophisticated as you may be. I am a lowly little lawyer in the corner. I don’t look at it politically in anyway. That is not my job. I am sure that both sides will have their own political machines going but my job is strictly is to look at the legal situation and the Mayor has not asked me to do political work for her. She has asked me to represent her if indeed she is charged criminally with certain offenses under the law. So that is where my focus is and I haven’t allowed myself to delve into the other area that may be surrounding the situation.”

And while Mayor Moya will be charged in the Magistrate’s Court, her case may already be going to the Supreme Court. That is because yesterday Moya - through her other attorney Hubert Elrington - filed a suit for constitutional redress in the Supreme Court. They are asking the court to declare the changes to the City Council Act last year unconstitutional – and in breach of the mayor and her council’s autonomy as an independently elected body.

Hubert Elrington, Attorney for Zenaida Moya
“The Mayor is not saying that she is not responsible. She is saying just the opposite, ‘I am the Mayor and it is my responsibility and the councillors’ responsibility to look after the affairs of the Belize City Council. It is not the responsibility of Mr. Patrick Tillett or the Minister of Finance. If Mr. Tillett is now in charge of City Council we want to know how. Is it the constitution of Belize that says he can be there? Is it the Prime Minister that has the power or the Minister of Local Government or is it the people of Belize? Who is in charge? There is a question of who runs City Council, who is in charge. What form of government? Are we going to have a democratic system and adhere to it or are we going to after the election say the democratic system doesn’t matter, the election doesn’t really matter, Mr. Tillett will run things and tell the Mayor what to do.”

But not so fast says the City Council. In a late evening press release signed by Deputy Mayor Dion Leslie – the council says that the constitutional motion filed by Mayor Moya is only behalf of her and not the council. According to the release, “the Belize City Council has held no meeting discussing or approving the commencement of this case.” It continues that, “the court action has been brought by Mrs. Moya-Flowers in her personal capacity and without any approval, endorsement, or participation from the Belize City Council.” The resolution ends by supporting the imposition of central government’s financial controller.

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