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Oct 11, 2005

El-Sayed forfeits bail; lawyers cannot find him

Story PictureHassan El-Sayed, the man charged in the passport scandal and wanted for questioning in the B.T.L. money-changing affair, remains a fugitive from justice. This morning Justice Adolph Lucas declared his two hundred thousand dollar bond forfeited, while at the same time postponing his decision on the forfeiture of a surety for the same amount posted by Belize City businessman Haisan El Batihish. That ruling will be made on October twenty-first. But while authorities have some cash in hand, tonight there is no sign of the man himself. This morning even El-Sayed’s attorney, Michel Chebat, claimed not to know where his client is, and more importantly, if he will ever come back to answer the charges against him.

Michel Chebat, El Sayed’s Attorney
“When you look at the record and what has transpired, Mr. El Sayed was at every single adjourned hearing at the Magistrate’s Court. When he was?when the matter was sent over the Supreme Court for trial, on the first occasion he was not here, he had left the country. While out of the country he was in an accident, which prevented him from being here. He was here at the subsequent date at which the court ordered him to be here, so that for us it is really unexpected. He has been here throughout and I can tell you clearly that myself and senior counsel are very concerned and surprised at his absence. Not to prejudge the case, we feel he personally he has a very strong case so that his absence is really, we cannot explain why he would have absented himself.”

Janelle Chanona
“Does he know he has a strong case or could this be an indicator that he is afraid of the outcome?”

Michel Chebat
“No. I think, I know we have been very honest with him based on the evidence we have so far. As you know, the D.P.P. may decide to bring new evidence, but based on the evidence we have we are satisfied that he has a strong case.”

Janelle Chanona
“He was also indicated in another matter, in the B.T.L. money changing deal, would that have prompted absence?”

Michel Chebat
“Janelle I don’t know personally that there is?that is more than just speculation and rumour, so that I don?t know that there is any evidence against him or I am not aware that a warrant has been issued for his arrest in that matter or that he is being investigated officially or unofficially for that case. So I don’t see what that matter would prevent him from coming for this one, which to my mind is a bigger sort of a deal, no.”

Neither Chebat nor senior counsel Edwin Flowers would disclose whether or not their fees had been paid by El-Sayed prior to his departure. El-Sayed is on trial in connection with charges of forgery in the 2002 passport scandal. More recently, he is wanted for questioning in the theft of one point four million dollars from Belize Telecommunications Limited. According to Gaspar Aguilar, then Chief Financial Officer of B.T.L., he gave El-Sayed the money to change into U.S. currency but El-Sayed disappeared without fulfilling his part of the bargain.

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