Chief Justice Kenneth Benjamin struck out the case brought by Julius Espat against Michael Peyrefitte. Espat is the PUP’s Area Representative for Cayo South and Peyrefitte is the duly appointed Speaker of the House of Representatives. On August 26, Espat was named and suspended from the House. He refused to go and officers, on the orders of Peyrefitte, dragged Espat out of the National Assembly building. Soon after, Espat filed a claim in the courts of Belize claiming that Peyrefitte did not follow the proper Standing Orders to suspend him. During the last court session, Peyrefitte’s attorney, Acting Solicitor General Nigel Hawke, filed an application to have the matter thrown out on the basis that there are other avenues besides litigation for Espat to use in order to return to the House. That application succeeded as explained by Peyrefitte.
“Based on the law as it stands the statutes side stand with the cases. The decision of the Chief Justice to say he doesn’t have jurisdiction because it doesn’t fall within a true constitutional issue it doesn’t surprise me when you look at the law as it stands today. I do my job to the best of my ability and if the Chief Justice had determined that I was wrong and gone to the case and determined that I was wrong I would have respected what he had ordered. So it’s important for me to say this, there is no victory here, I take no pride or joy in having the people of Cayo South without their representative in the house ,that is not a good thing but the house has rules and I believe members have to follow those rules and hopefully indeed the alternative remedy could be invoked and there could be some continued discussion on both sides of the house to bring the member back as quickly as possible.”
Espat told the media that he has plans to appeal the CJ’s decision.
“It’s very disappointing because I am not defending Julius Espat in this case I am representing thousands of people and the system is the problem. I insist I have been insisting from the day we are fighting against a system that is holding us down and if it’s holding a representative down imaging how it’s holding the regular man on the ground out there down. We will continue our fight because it is a just one.”
MAGALI MARIN YOUNG
“Clearly the client is disappointed, has expressed the desire to proceed with an appeal, disappointed because we did not feel that this was a clear cut case where the judiciary could not intervene in parliamentary affairs especially since there is serious allegation of breach of fundamental rights and the speaker not lawfully suspending the member of parliament for Cayo South.”
“This is not affecting me personally it is affecting the people that I represent, it is affecting the political system it is affecting everything that we live for and just because Christmas is coming around we won’t worry about it and next year we will continue what we do it is a fundamental problem that we have in our society and I am willing to take it all the way and our attorneys are in agreement that we should appeal it all the way.”
There will be a Special Sitting of the House of Representatives this Friday and we understand that several persons who have disrupted previous Senate and House meetings will not be permitted to enter the National Assembly Building. Espat says he will fight his way through.
“He is suspended so I don’t anticipate that everything could be cleared up for Friday. I don’t anticipate that. If the government whip or the leader in the house and opposition were to come to me and say that they have spoken about this and that they have come to some agreement and they want to make a motion to bring the member Friday if they want I would have no problem with that I would read the motion and they would vote on it because then to bring him back requires a vote of the house but like I said I don’t anticipate that that would happen Friday but if it happens for Friday I would have no difficulty with that.”
“I will be there, I am seeking advice right now from our attorney and I am also having a meeting with the party to see what our position will be.”
“But simply waiting because a motion must be tabled?”
“That is not a decision on our part. That is a decision on the other side but it’s a good thing for people to see, this has been played out on tv, everybody saw what happened but I did not foresee what would have happened the last time and I am not foreseeing what will happen this time but I will be there so we will see what will happen.”
“Are you prepared to go?”
“I am always prepared and I will never back down, that is not a question in my mind.”
“So you are prepared for a repeat, to be dragged out?”
“Well if this is a boxing ring I am here to box.”
“I am hoping that cooler heads will prevail and he would not go there against the orders of the house and in light of the ruling that the court is not going to hear his issue. What the court essentially is saying is that you members of parliament along with the speaker sit down and work it out for yourselves. I can’t see how that would help but the rules are also clear when a member is suspended and we will just have to do what we have to do to ensure that the rules and the orders and rulings of the house are upheld.”
Our news team will be in Belmopan on Friday and we will tell you what happens then.