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Oct 12, 2004

P.G. teacher wins appeal vs. Catholic Church

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The case of Maria Roches, the teacher who took the Roman Catholic Church to court after being dismissed for getting pregnant out of wedlock has moved one step closer to conclusion. The three member Court of Appeal, sitting in Belize City, this afternoon dismissed an appeal brought forward by the Catholic Management. After Roches was awarded damages to the tune of one hundred and fifty thousand dollars earlier this year by Chief Justice Abdulai Conteh. This evening, Roches’ attorney Dean Barrow told News 5 this evening that just one small legal detail needs to be worked out.

Dean Barrow, Attorney for Maria Roches

?The court of appeal has dismissed the appeal in so far as they?ve upheld the findings of the chief justice that Ms. Roches was discriminated against by the Catholic Management and that accordingly her fundamental right to non discrimination has been breached. However, in so far as the amount of damages awarded to her is concerned, just today, Mr. Zuniga amended his grounds of appeal to include a challenge to the quantum; to the amount and the court has said that they would like further time to look at that aspect of the appeal. I am submitting some additional case law. This is all because this ground came so very late in the day. So I am to submit some additional case law to them tomorrow. And if Mr. Zuniga wishes to comment on the case law, we will go back before the court, but if not the court will simply use that additional material to determine whether I can uphold the actual amount or whether that amount needs to be reduced by them, or whether it needs to go back to the chief justice for a determination on the facts.?

Patrick Jones

?How difficult was it for you to argue successfully on behalf of Ms. Roches??

Dean Barrow

?It wasn?t difficult at all. In fact the court of appeal didn?t call on me to reply to Mr. Zuniga on that question of liability. They found that he simply had failed to make out his appeal. And so without even hearing arguments from me the court ruled that it would uphold the chief justice?s finding as to the breach of Ms. Roches? fundamental rights.?

The Roman Catholic Church was represented at the appeal by attorney Philip Zuniga.

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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