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Mar 22, 2017

Inez Casanova Speaks About Relationship with Barton Middleton

A current and a former Immigration officer both appeared before today’s public hearing of the Senate Special Select Committee in Belmopan.  The first, Inez Casanova, has not been directly accused of any wrongdoing.  However, other witnesses have claimed that she had accompanied self-styled Immigration agent Barton Middleton to the Princess Hotel’s Calypso Restaurant in early 2013.  That was when he met with Eric Chang and Patrick Tillett, after eight visa foils had gone missing the previous December.  Senior officer George Reynolds had turned down their efforts to “fix” the foils in Chinese passports, forcing Tillett to take the loss.  Casanova firmly denies any intimate relationship with Middleton and insists she had nothing to do with the visa foils or any other irregularities at Immigration. She went even as far as to threaten legal action to any who say otherwise.  But throughout her testimony, and even though she had attorney Dickie Bradley by her side, she was by turns hesitant and vacillating, causing the Senate panel to mistrust her.  Initially, she denied even bringing Middleton to the City for this particular meeting – but later allowed that she “might have” done so.

 

Aldo Salazar, Chair, Senate Special Select Committee

“The testimony is that you were seen in a vehicle around the time of that meeting at the Calypso Restaurant; is that true?”

 

Inez Casanova

Inez Casanova, Immigration Officer

“It’s not true; I’ve never been to Calypso; I never been in no meeting.”

 

Aldo Salazar

“It’s not that you were in the meeting – nobody said you were in a meeting; the question is, were you present in a vehicle outside of the restaurant on the date on which there was a meeting?”

 

Inez Cassanova

“No, sir.”

Elena Smith, Senator for Trade Unions and Civil Society

“The matter, Miss Casanova, of your being at the Calypso, as the Chair had asked before; you had been identified by two persons. Because we were told that you were identified because the person knows your brother, who works at B.T.L., and that is how they were able to say specifically that you were the one in the vehicle at the Calypso.”

 

Inez Cassanova

“I might have been in that vehicle; but I have no – I am not aware; I do not know of anything that was done.”

 

Elena Smith

“I just want to know specifically: were you the person in that vehicle? We’re not asking if you were at the meeting. You just said to me that you might have been in the vehicle – it can’t be ‘might have been’; you were either there or you were not there.”

 

Inez Cassanova

“I was not there at no Calypso in no vehicle.”

 

Elena Smith

“Your ‘might have been’ response, Miss Cassanova, is telling me that you are not telling me something; remember you swore under oath just now that you would tell us the truth. We are not saying that you were at the meeting – you were being accused of being in the vehicle when Mr. Middleton went to meet with Mr. Mark Tench, Mr. Patrick Tillett and Mr. Eric Chang. And they knew it was you, because of the connection between the person knowing your brother and knowing you. So were you there?”

 

Inez Cassanova

“No, ma’am.”

 

Elena Smith

“You were never in any setting – you were never at any time anywhere near Mr. Middleton when he met with persons of that sort.”

 

Inez Cassanova

“No, ma’am.”

 

Elena Smith

“So then I’m confused with regard to your answer – ‘might have been.’”

 

Aldo Salazar

“Why would you say you ‘might have been’ if you know for certain that you were not in the vehicle?”

 

Inez Cassanova

“Because sometimes, like Mr. Middleton would ask me or anybody would ask me for a ride, and then I would just bring down somebody – but as far as I am aware I have never been at Calypso with anybody – that [is for] sure, sure.”

 

Casanova later admitted to picking up Middleton and driving him between Orange Walk Town and Belize City a couple of times per month for up to three years before ending all contact with him.

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