Minister of State Edmond Castro has taken Alvarene Burgess, the whistleblower who accused him of involvement in corrupt transactions over visa recommendations, and Great Belize Television (Channel 5), who aired those allegations, to Supreme Court for suit of defamation of character.
The case returned to court on Monday for pre-trial review, with Burgess’ attorney Anthony Sylvestre attempting to persuade Justice Courtney Abel to allow an extension of time to file a witness statement on Burgess’ behalf, citing difficulties in communication with his clients.
However, it appears both sides – including Channel 5’s attorney Leslie Mendez and Castro’s attorney Julie-Ann Ellis-Bradley – ran afoul of a court-ordered pre-trial memorandum, which would have settled certain issues, and now they all face sanction from the court.
Both Burgess and Channel 5 stand by their series of interviews in October and November of 2013. Edmond Castro is equally steadfast in denying the allegations and seeks a retraction, apology, and damages.
Earlier this year he got a case brought by Trevor Vernon, in relations to alleged mishandling of funds belonging to the Belize Airport Authority, thrown out by Chief Justice Kenneth Benjamin. In that case he insisted that he did not personally handle any of the cheques in question, which were used for various social assistance program in his Belize Rural North division.
The case returns to court on December 1.