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Jul 31, 2006

Smiling wins first round in C.F.Z. case

Story PictureRound one of the legal battle between businessman Winston Smiling and the Corozal Free Zone ended earlier today with Smiling smiling. On Thursday, Smiling and another Corozal businessman, Gulab Sharma, asked the Supreme Court for permission to apply for judicial review following the results of the election of private sector representatives to the Zone’s Board on July tenth. Lois Young-Barrow, appearing for the respondents, C.F.Z. Chief Executive Officer Joel Cervantes and the Ministry responsible for free zones, objected to the application, maintaining that Sharma had won election to the Board and therefore did not have sufficient interest in the case and secondly, the complaint was baseless because the elections were held according to the law. This morning, Justice Samuel Awich ruled against those objections and granted Smiling and Sharma permission to apply for the review. Their attorney, Fred Lumor, told us what’s the next step in the case.

Fred Lumor, Smiling/Sharma attorney
?You have to show that you have an arguable case. Then the judge will then go beyond that threshold and hear the case under merit. So we have to show the court that we have an arguable case, on which the court will grant the permission to apply for judicial review. We will show the court in the next thirty minutes that there is an arguable case here.?

Janelle Chanona
?What will be those grounds that you have an arguable case??

Fred Lumor
?The grounds are, one that the election was not conducted in accordance with the free zone regulations. Two, that the elections were irregularly conducted, if you apply reason to it. One example is why accept some proxy votes and reject some. Then the other objection is that the Board as it is constituted is not in accordance with law, where by no public officers are appointed to represent ministries on the Board. So these are some of the issues that we will be raising in court.?

Winston Smiling, C.F.Z. Businessman
?I believe justice will be done. This is one of the arguments I had from the beginning. If we had only stick to the regulations we would not to be here today. So I will leave the rest for the next results, but I am very happy at this moment. I am extremely happy.?

Late this evening, presentations by Lumor and Young-Barrow continued in the Supreme Court. The case will continue tomorrow.

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