Leader of the Opposition, John Briceno, failed to meet the Attorney General’s 24-hour deadline to present evidence in his allegation that some Government ministers are involved in the drug plane landings in Belize. Briceno made the bold allegation during his New Year’s address which we bring back to you for context.
Hon. John Briceno, Opposition Leader: “There was also a complete failure to seriously address the drug related crimes with an unprecedented number of drug planes landing. We have credible information which confirms that these illegal landings were being facilitated by corruption in the highest level of the UDP government.”
Briceno’s allegations are bold and dangerous. This is according to the Attorney General Michael Peyrefitte. Peyrefitte challenged the Opposition Leader to present the evidence or be called a liar.
Michael Peyrefitte, Attorney General of Belize: “The Leader of the Opposition said that he has credible information which is evidence of UDP officials high up in the government who are facilitating the landing of drug planes. Now if that is true and you have information on that why would you sit on that information? If you have that information then produce that information because if you don’t have that information then what you’re saying is extremely libelous and that’s utter slander. I mean that is a serious serious thing to say on national television and as a part of your message from the PUP. Put it to CARICOM, put it to INTERPOL, put it to the DEA, the European Union, anybody. If you have evidence that high UDP officials are facilitating the landing of drug planes in this country you need to – if you’re going to say that then you better have evidence of that and that is something like I said you can’t say that without having that information ready for the public and I am putting to the leader of the opposition you need to provide that information to the public within 24 hours or his credibility whatever is left of it will be completely shot and that’s my view on that.”
Members of the media spoke to Briceno to see if he would be presenting details to back up his New Year’s allegations. Here is how he responded.
Hon. John Briceno, Opposition Leader: “I think that’s the right of the Attorney General if he believes that he would wish to sue me for my remarks but the fact is that certainly as a citizen I am very concerned about all of these drug planes landing in Belize. When you look around for instance you look at what has happened in Mexico, a huge country with lots of resources and the issue of the drug trade was never addressed head on from early on that it reached to a point now that the state seems to be unable to do anything about it and I’m very concerned and it is something that we should not hold back on and it’s worrisome that the plan is landing east police go west, the plane lands south police go north, always in the wrong direction.”
Reporter: Sir, the AG is saying show me the proof where is the proof.
Hon. John Briceno, Opposition Leader: “My whole thrust of my message was to be able to have people talking about it and to make sure that we know that there’s something here and that it has to be addressed and who is the people in charge not you or me, it’s the UDP government and they seem to be either unable to handle it or deliberately not wanting to handle it or certain people are involved.”
Reporter: Do you have proof sir ?
Hon. John Briceno, Opposition Leader: “I have said enough for right now.”
Reporter: He wants the proof according to the AG. I mean or take it to INTERPOL or the FBI, someone.
Hon. John Briceno, Opposition Leader: “I’m not going to go into a back and forth. I think what is important for me more than anything else is for us to be able to understand that there is a serious, a clear and present danger when it comes to this issue and our government seems to be either unable to handle it or do not want to handle it or tackle it head on.”
Reporter: In terms of your New Year’s message the AG is demanding an apology, would you apologize?
Hon. John Briceno, Opposition Leader: “For what ?”
Reporter: For the comments you made and the allegations against the government and cabinet.
Hon. John Briceno, Opposition Leader: “As I said for what ? I don’t see anything to apologize about. He would know if it is him or not. I think what is important is that obviously we hit a raw nerve and that is why they’re so concerned. I think that what they are supposed to be telling us ‘this is the plan how we’re going to stop drug planes from landing in Belize.’ that is what we want to hear from him.”
Love News contacted the Attorney General this evening who confirmed that Briceno did not present any evidence. So, is Briceno a liar as Peyrefitte indicated? We’ll let you be the judge.