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Dec 6, 2016

Friday Showdown at House as Julius, Thwarted in Court, Vows to Return

There could be a showdown almost equal to the titanic battle that proceeded on the afternoon of August twenty-sixth coming on Friday, December ninth. Cayo South area representative Julius Espat will return to the House, but he hasn’t been invited. It’s difficult to forget, especially for those involved, but here’s a recap: While addressing the House of Representatives on the Immigration Audit Report, Espat used some unparliamentary language and got into a back-and-forth with rival Speaker Michael Peyrefitte, who asked that he be “named”, in parliamentary parlance. Pickstock representative and Minister of Foreign Affairs Wilfred Elrington obliged, but Espat sat stone-cold in his seat and was dragged, kicking if not screaming, from the National Assembly by Police.  Members of the media and other parliamentarians were also roughed up in the process.  Espat maintains he was never formally suspended, nor given the chance to make amends, and decided to take the matter to court, to both reverse the purported suspension and get back his since withheld salary from the National Assembly. The other side asked Chief Justice Kenneth Benjamin to strike out the matter, and his judgment concurring with that request was issued today, three days before the next House meeting. Correspondent Aaron Humes attended and tells us why the Speaker is not spoiling for round two with the pugnacious Espat.

 

Aaron Humes, Reporting

People’s United Party Leader John Briceño; Senior Counsel Eamon Courtenay and a coterie of party faithful descended on the Supreme Court, anticipating that their comrade, area representative for Cayo South, Julius Espat would be released from the order of Speaker of the House of Representatives Michael Peyrefitte and be able to join them at the next meeting of the House this coming Friday. But it was not to be. Chief Justice Kenneth Benjamin struck out Espat’s claim, accepting the application advanced by the Speaker and his attorneys – Deputy Solicitor General Nigel Hawke and Agassi Finnegan – that Espat had not proven that his Constitutional rights had been violated, that he had not taken advantage of the remedy provided for in the Standing Orders of the House to alleviate his purported suspension, and that the Judiciary, respecting the doctrine of separation of powers, should not place itself in parliamentary affairs.

 

Magali Marin-Young

Magali Marin-Young, Attorney for Julius Espat

“Clearly, the client is disappointed; [he] 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.”

 

Espat claimed he is a victim of a rigged system, the Judiciary aside.

 

Julius Espat

Julius Espat, Area Representative, Cayo South

“It’s a good thing for people to see; this has been played out on the television, everybody saw what happened, and so it’s very disappointing. It’s very disappointing, because I am not defending Julius Espat in this case; I’m 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, imagine how it is holding the regular man on the ground out there down. And we will continue our fight, because it is a just one.”

 

But respecting that the case is about more than political victories, Speaker Peyrefitte appears ready to extend the olive branch, even if not in time for Friday.

 

Michael Peyrefitte

Michael Peyrefitte, Speaker of the House

“There is no victory here. I take no pride or any 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 that members have to follow those rules. And hopefully, hopefully, the alternative remedy could be invoked and there could be some continued discussions on both sides of the House to bring the Member back as quickly as possible.”

 

While Speaker Peyrefitte is prepared to resolve the matter if called upon as early as Friday, he will not tolerate any disturbance. Nevertheless, the always forthright Espat says he will be ready for anything.

 

Julius Espat

“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.”

 

Reporter

“But are you prepared to go…”

 

Julius Espat

“I am always prepared, and I will never back down; so that’s not even a question in my mind.”

 

Reporter

So you are prepared for a repeat, to be dragged out?

 

Julius Espat

“If this is a boxing ring, I am here to box.”

 

Michael Peyrefitte

“It is very unfortunate that he said what he said, but 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 is essentially 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 will 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 rulings and the orders of the House are upheld.”

 

Aaron Humes reporting for News Five.

 

At the Speaker’s request, the Court made no order for costs. Espat said the Party would meet to make a formal decision on its route forward.

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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