Minister of State Edmund Castro is suing Mrs. Alvarene Burgess, who accused him of involvement in corrupt transactions over visa recommendations, and Great Belize Television (Channel 5), who aired those allegations, for defamation of character in the Supreme Court.
The case went before Justice Courtney Abel for case management this morning. Senior Counsel Rodwell Williams appears for Castro, Senior Counsel Godfrey Smith for Channel 5 and Kareem Musa for Mrs. Burgess, who deferred comment to her attorneys.
The attorneys had little to say on the matter beyond indications that the court is managing preliminary aspects of the case, but Senior Counsel Smith did offer this nugget about the basis of his defense of Channel 5.
He says that the station is protected under the Prevention of Corruption in Public Life Act when it uses its offices to air allegations by whistleblowers.
“Let’s remember the Prevention of Corruption and the amendments that came as part of region-wide initiative by the Organization of American States to encourage whistle blowers to not be afraid of victimization or being sued, so that prevention can be tackled honestly and in a serious way. We are taking advantage of that protection. so, it basically says, “once you have made a reasonable complaint, it is not a frivolous or vexatious… ” then, you are afforded immunity from a suit. so, we intend to test that and seek the protection”.
The case returns for further consideration on June 16.