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Jul 24, 2015

Gapi Versus Monchi and the Infamous Recording, Day 2

Today, all parties in a libel and slander suit brought by Deputy Prime Minister Gaspar Vega were back in Court. Vega is suing Ramon Cervantes Jr. and Fiesta FM because he says that in November 2014 they both caused to be aired a recording of a phone conversation. In that conversation, suspected murderer and fugitive Manuel ‘El Pelon’ Castillo alleges that Vega was somehow involved in a plot to murder Ramon Cervantes Sr. the matter was expected to be concluded today before Chief Justice Kenneth Benjamin, and Mike Rudon was there for the entire proceeding. Here’s that story.


Mike Rudon, Reporting

Just as they did on Thursday, supporters from Orange Walk North crowded the street in front of the Courtroom, while the court itself was packed with supporters of the various parties in the case, as well as interested observers. The entire morning was taken up with an application brought by attorney Rodwell Williams, acting on behalf of claimant Gaspar Vega. It involved the infamous recording on which Vega is named.


Rodwell Williams

Rodwell Williams, Attorney for Gaspar Vega

“The CD recorded in the Spanish language has been admitted into evidence of the recording of the tape conversation between Mr. Manuel Castillo and Mrs. Vilma Cervantes. That recording is in evidence on the CD but it is in the Spanish language. As you know the conversation is conducted in the Spanish language. That language of the Court is English. And our side, the claimants, did prepare its own translation and we felt since there was no question raised about the translation that we prepared, the transmission in Spanish and the translation in English which we prepared by our own interpreter, that it would save much time to in fact use it.”


That application was greeted with immediate objection by Eamon Courtenay, who represents the second defendant Fiesta FM. Said Musa is representing the first defendant, Ramon Cervantes Jr. Courtenay says the claimant was seeking to introduce a witness who could only speak to a copy of a recording obtained from Love FM, which is not a party to the court action.


Eamon Courtenay

Eamon Courtenay, Attorney for Fiesta FM

“What they attempted to do this morning was to call a witness who did a translation of the recording and that witness…the law says that a witness has to give his or her statement – in this particular case from the twenty-seventh March…this witness did not. So on the day of trial they attempted to get the witness to then give a statement, and we objected. We objected firstly because they failed to comply with the rules. Secondly we objected because the CD that is in evidence is a recording from Love FM and not from Fiesta, and we submitted to the Court that a translation of a Love FM recording is irrelevant in a case against Fiesta.”


The application to call Kelly Guzman, the claimant’s translator of the recording, was refused early this afternoon. It’s an interesting case. Libel and slander hinge on the words which are purported to create such offences. The next step for the claimant will be to play the recording in Court at its next hearing of the case.


Rodwell Williams

“We will now have to go through the process and have the tape recording which is in evidence except that the language of the Court is in English and that matter is in Spanish so it has to be played and interpreted by the official Court interpreter.”


Eamon Courtenay

“It is our position that the claimant will not be allowed to play the recording in court. Mr. Williams says that he is going to make such an application. I would only describe it as a novel application and we look forward to seeing the law that would support that. I am not sure where he is going to find it.”


Rodwell Williams

“They may seek to challenge it but that’s how the process works. My point is that it is in evidence, hear, and it now needs to be translated because the language of the Court is English.”


Attorneys for both defendants claim that the recording with those allegedly offensive words has yet to be heard as evidence, which is good news for their clients.


Said Musa

Said Musa, Attorney for Ramon Cervantes Jr.

“I think it’s been going extremely well. The fundamentals of this case is the allegation that my client published or re-published a libellous article against Minister Vega and I’m yet to hear any evidence of that. As far as I’m aware the case for the claimant is about to conclude and we’re still waiting for that kind of evidence because there is none, and there will be none.”


Eamon Courtenay

“We maintain that position. We will be calling our witnesses to establish that and so far and there is only one more witness for the claimant…no one has put in evidence any recording from Fiesta.”


Said Musa

“Clearly they won’t be able to prove any broadcast by Fiesta. They’re only relying on a tape from Love FM which is not really evidence. It is totally irrelevant to this case, so I would think…speaking personally – of course we don’t want to prejudge anything, but Fiesta as far as I am concerned is definitely in the clear. My client is at this point in time…I am comfortable with the way the case has gone.”


And they remain, as they left the Courtroom this afternoon…confident.


Said Musa

“I am certainly.”


Eamon Courtenay

“Do you see me trembling.”


As he did yesterday Vega left the courtroom flanked by his family and supporters, and we greeted downstairs by over a hundred residents from his political division who have been bussed in for the occasion. Mike Rudon for News Five.


The matter resumes on September eighteenth.

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