Libel case between Gaspar Vega and Ramon Cervantes, Jr. begins

Deputy Prime Minister Gaspar Vega opened his lawsuit for slander against political opponent Ramon Cervantes, Jr. in the Supreme Court today before Chief Justice Kenneth Benjamin. The Orange Walk North area representative and Minister of Natural Resources and Agriculture charges that the younger Cervantes paid for the broadcast of a purported conversation between Manuel Castillo and Vilma Cervantes made at a memorial service for Ramon Cervantes Sr in November of 2014. He states that this conversation libeled and slandered him by alleging that he ordered the younger Cervantes’ death, but that the older Cervantes was kidnapped and killed instead. Vega is also directly suing Fiesta FM, the Orange Walk radio station owned by Centaur Communications, for broadcasting the alleged libel/slander; the station contends that it did not in fact air the conversation or indeed, much of the memorial, due to technical difficulties forcing the broadcast off the air. On the witness stand Vega said he listened to most of the ceremony at his office on Clarke Street, switching between Fiesta and LOVE FM, and heard the allegations first-hand; he later received a CD containing the recorded conversation from LOVE News editor Ava Diaz-Sosa. He said they had caused great damage to his personal reputation, which he denied had ever been called into question except in circumstances of politics, and caused him sleepless nights and cost him additional security for perceived threats to his life. According to Vega he has never met Castillo, who remains on the run, and is not even sure if it is Castillo’s voice on the tape. Vega, through Barrow and Williams firm, wrote Cervantes Jr, LOVE and Fiesta demanding a public apology and compensation for his damaged reputation; only LOVE FM has apologized since. However, the Acting Prime Minister told the court that he was not yet sure of how much the charges had affected him politically, though he was greeted by a group of supporters outside court at the end of arguments. At close of proceedings this afternoon we spoke to Vega’s attorney, Senior Counsel Rodwell Williams.

 

Rodwell Williams –  Attorney for Gaspar Vegavlcsnap-2015-07-24-10h52m11s218

“We are very comfortable with the progress of the case so far…it is of course as you’re aware on its way. It’s close to ending but we are quite comfortable and confident.”

Reporter

“What is the next step for you all in trying to establish the injury to Mr. Gapi’s character?”

Rodwell Williams

“No we’re not trying to start…there has been injury and that’s why we are here, and to seek to vindicate the damage to his reputation.”

 

Surrounded by his supporters, Vega said he was buoyed by their faith in him.

 

Gaspar Vega – Accuses Ramon Cervantes and Fiesta FM of Libelvlcsnap-2015-07-24-11h03m28s134

“They just came because they heard of the case…came to give some moral support.”

Reporter

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

Gaspar Vega

“Very special! I always say that God is always with me.”

Reporter

“And these people are from Orange Walk North?”

Gaspar Vega

“…From Orange Walk North.”

Reporter

“Will they be here the remainder of the case for you?”

Gaspar Vega

“I don’t know if they will be coming back. But I certainly will not be stopping anybody from coming. Whoever wants to come they can come.”

Reporter

“Is it something you needed?”

Gaspar Vega

“I always need the moral support of my people.”

Reporter

“Seeing as these people are out here for you…do you believe that your character has been damaged?”

Gaspar Vega

“Of course it has been damaged…I don’t know like I said earlier I cannot speak about the case because I’m still a witness so I cannot mention anything about the case.”

The case resumes tomorrow morning, Friday, at ten. Three men have been charged for Ramon Cervantes, Sr.’s kidnapping and murder.

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