Andre Vega, the son of Belize’s former Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Lands, Gaspar Vega has been ordered to give back the four hundred thousand dollars paid to him in land compensation. It is an unexpected decision rendered by Justice Abel Courtney late this evening. Many critics had expressed doubt in this case, saying the entire legal proceedings were a sham to give the perception of justice. Well, tonight those critics are proven wrong and Vega now has to shin up the money. In court this evening, Justice Courtney referred to the transaction as being fundamentally flawed and contrary to public policy. To give you the background of this land scandal that led Gaspar Vega to be taken out of Cabinet; two and a half years after the land scandal involving Andre Vega, Sharon Pitts and prime properties near the Haulover Bridge. The payout came from the Ministry of Natural Resources after the Lands Department gave Vega and Pitts lands that were already privately owned. Vega was represented by Attorney, Estevan Perera who spoke to the media after the court proceedings.
Attorney Estevan Perera: “Well the decision was just made by the judge. The judge hasn’t provided us with the written judgments so we can’t really comment on all of the findings of the judge or the reasons as to why he ultimately made that decision at this point. When it comes to making a submission to a court one has to rely on evidence that is provided from the witness box. What we indicated to the court was that in the witness box there was no evidence as to who at the time was the Minister involved. It has to be recognized by yourself perhaps because you are not trained in law but one cannot give evidence from the BAR table as the attorney. We cannot only speak to what is said from the witness box so that is the point as to why I indicated that I cannot give evidence to that, it can only be from the witness. I have spoken to the clients with respect to returns at this point. Again we are waiting for the decision to come out in writing and then we will be going through the judgment, the contents of the judgment and the reasons, then we will decide as to whether or not we will appeal. We do believe that there are many grounds to appeal and we do believe the first instance that we will appeal.”
In his defence, Vega said that prior to purchasing the property, he did not find any lien against it. Vega bought the land from Hilmar Alamilla and according to the court, the compensation should have been sought from Alamilla and not the Government of Belize.