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Jul 3, 2015

Minister Castro Drops Bombshell & Lawsuit

Edmund Castro

There is monumental news coming out of the Supreme Court – a legal and political bombshell which burst all over Minister of State Edmond Castro. In late 2013, Castro had sued whistleblower Alvarene Burgess for explosive allegations that she paid him to facilitate many visas for Chinese nationals. Castro also sued Great Belize Productions/Channel Five for airing those allegations, claiming that his reputation was damaged. In May 2015, Justice Courtney Abel heard the arguments and cross-examinations of Edmond Castro and Alvarene Burgess. Today, oral closing arguments were to be heard, but that didn’t happen, because the Castro abruptly decided to discontinue the suit. It’s an astonishing and unexpected turn of events which fully vindicates Burgess and Channel Five, and doesn’t look good on Minister of State Edmond Castro. Mike Rudon was at the courtroom and has the story.  

 

Mike Rudon, Reporting

This morning oral arguments were scheduled for nine at the Supreme Court. But instead, at that time attorney Rodwell Williams and his client Edmond Castro were huddled together on the back verandah of the court after a meeting in the chambers of the judge. By that time word had already begun to filter out that it had been suggested that Castro consider walking away from a case which was looking very bad for him. They re-entered the Courtroom at around ten, and ten minutes after that, it was done. Castro and his attorney left the court shortly after to offer this very amusing spin on the discontinuation.

 

Rodwell Williams

Rodwell Williams, Attorney for Edmond Castro

“What happened is this. Mr. Castro feels that having brought the matter to Court, he has been vindicated. The claim was being made against a friend of his who has been a friend for over twenty years, and he brought the matter and he felt that at this stage he felt vindicated…rather than to seek to continue the claim in relation to bringing this friendship to an end on a sour note. And therefore the matter is discontinued.”

 

Reporter

“Sir we notice you and Mr. Castro speaking on the back verandah and it seems that he was not happy with the decision to discontinue.”

 

Rodwell Williams

“No further comment…no further comment…”

 

Reporter

“Sir you accept that this is vindication?”

 

Rodwell Williams

“It is his right to discontinue, and that’s what he has exercised.”

 

Reporter

“But did you suggest it to him that it was prudent to discontinue?”

 

Rodwell Williams

“That’s between me and my client. Thank you.”

 

Reporter

“Sir Mr. Williams said that they did it because Mr. Castro feels that he has been sufficiently vindicated. Could I get your response to that?”

 

Godfrey Smith

Godfrey Smith, Attorney for Great Belize Productions

“I suppose that is an attempt to salvage the rapidly sliding reputation of Mr. Castro. No, he brought the claim and at this last minute decided to withdraw the claim and pay costs…I mean you don’t do that at this stage. You don’t withdraw saying that I think my client has been sufficiently vindicated and be stuck with close to thirty-thousand dollars in costs which they are going to have to pay.”

 

Anthony Sylvestre, Attorney for Alvarene Burgess

“Well I mean with all due respect and the greatest of respect to Mr. Williams, the entire country and the entire nation knows that that is far from the truth.”

 

These visa facilitation letters, from the desk of Honourable Edmond Castro, are the allegations made against him. Alvarene Burgess claimed that she paid him two thousand dollars each to assist her with obtaining visas for a multitude of Chinese nationals. Both were cross-examined in May, and what was revealed in that Courtroom did not look good for the Minister.

 

Anthony Sylvestre

Godfrey Smith

“It’s a situation where they realized it was the end of the road for Minister Castro. He had foolishly brought a claim that had not the ghost of a chance of succeeding…embarrassed himself in Court…made a number of admissions which you will recall…he basically admitted that yes there was a visa hustle on. Yes, his office was being used to facilitate the Visa hustle. Yes his signature was on it. Yes, it could be perceived that he was involved and engaged in a Visa hustle. It was wrong, and if he had a chance he would not do it again. The only thing he refused to admit was that he had taken money and at that point it was plain to be seen that the game was up. He had been exposed for what he really was.”

 

Anthony Sylvestre

“The reality is that everyone knows, indeed the entire country and those that have seen and followed this matter on the world-wide web, knows that the fact of the matter is that Ms. Burgess was telling the truth. Mr. Castro was seen in Court to be evasive, was seen in Court to be far from telling the truth, and at the end of the day a Judge would have made a decision in our favour. So they saved themselves from that.”

 

Alvarene Burgess

Whistleblower, Alvarene Burgess, has stood by her story from day one, even after she was sued. And even in court under examination by attorney Rodwell Williams, she never deviated from her allegation that she paid Minister Castro cash for each visa he facilitated for her. She emerged from the Court vindicated, but not happy.

 

Alvarene Burgess, Whistleblower

“Surprised and disappointed, Mike…very disappointment…because I was dragged to Court. I swore on the Bible. I told the truth. To have Mr. Castro just at the end, knowing that he had a losing case to just back out, withdraw…so I was surprised and disappointed.”

 

Reporter

“Mr. Castro’s lawyer told us he did it because he felt that his client’s name had been cleared, and that he had done enough damage to you as his friend, so he withdrew his case because of you.”

 

Alvarene Burgess

“They withdrew because they knew that Mrs. Alvarene Burgess came and told the truth, and they had a losing case. I never withdrew anything. They were the ones that withdrew, because they knew they had a losing case.”

 

Castro, whose attorney says he decided to withdraw so he would not leave on a sour note with his friend Alvarene Burgess, will have to pay her costs, and also those of Great Belize Productions. Mike Rudon for News Five.


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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3 Responses for “Minister Castro Drops Bombshell & Lawsuit”

  1. Sonya says:

    Dumb advice Rodwell-case didn’t go your way this time, so instead of you also losing, you throw in the towel on your fighter.

  2. Ali BaBarrow & his 40 say, Je juis Castro says:

    Time to indict Castro an send him to Hattieville prison to collect his government pension.

    Besides being a crook, he is a first rate fool.

    But wait!! Belize prosecutors are bigger fools, therefore status quo, back to cabinet on Monday.

    BTW, how is the Penner investigation going?

  3. Hatari says:

    The Not-so-Honorable Castro is a criminal just like Penner. They took money to pimp out Belize citizenship! And the sad part about it all is that nothing will be done about it. They are stealing from us, you and me. I cannot believe that the people of his district have so foolishly re-elected this thief. And guess who will have to pay the $30,000? You will, of course, remember he had to scam money from the airport authority to bury his mother so what makes you think he won’t do it again to pay these court costs? Open your eyes people!

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