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Jul 27, 2004

Passport scandal trial postponed again

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It has taken almost a year to the day for the case to reach the lofty confines of the Supreme Court. But as we are all aware, the wheels of justice turn slowly in Belize…and today they ground to a halt. Accused passport forger Therese Cabral will now have to wait until October fifth before a jury is empanelled and the case against her officially commences. This morning, crown counsel Majorie Moyston, representing the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, appeared before Justice Adolph Lucas and asked for the case to be traversed to the next session of the Supreme Court. Moyston cited three reasons as grounds for her request:

1) that the case is expected to take at least three weeks to be concluded, 2) it was only last Friday that the defence had been served with eight statements pertaining to the case, and fairness dictated more time to study them, and 3) a new indictment was being added to the list. Since defence attorney Edwin Flowers had no objections, Justice Lucas upheld the motion. In initial proceedings, Cabral was indicted on forty-three counts stemming from what has been dubbed the “Immigration Scandal”. This morning Moyston told News 5 that in submissions heard on Monday, it was decided that due to the number of counts against the defendant, the counts would be severed, that is, the case against Cabral would only proceed with twenty-one counts. The decision was made, also bearing in mind that the jury would have to consider each separate count and given the mountains of paperwork involved in this case, the fear is that the members would have been overwhelmed. According to counsel, upon completion of this case, the judge would then decide how to deal with the remaining counts against Cabral. Of the twenty-one indictments that will be laid before Justice Lucas in October, fifteen are charges of forgery of a passport while six are perjury charges in connection with allegedly false written statements made to police. The forty-seven year old Belize City woman was arrested on July thirty-first 2003, offered bail of ten thousand dollars, ordered to hand over all travel documents and report to the clerk of Magistrate’s Court every Monday and Friday. If convicted of the charges, Therese Cabral faces a maximum penalty of ten years behind bars. Cabral continues to work at Odette’s on Albert Street, owned and managed by proprietor Jose Shoman and family.

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