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Apr 2, 2004

Gabby Affif faces charges

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He’s been a wanted man for over eight months. But this afternoon the man at the centre of the biggest passport scandal in the history of Belize, fifty-seven year old businessman Jabor “Gabby” Affif, was marched up to Magistrate Court number one. As Affif sat stoically beside his attorneys, Senior Counsel Simeon Samson and Michel Chebat, Chief Magistrate Herbert Lord went through the one hundred and nineteen accusations of forging official documents, namely passport applications, facilitating the forgery of those applications, and abetment to uttering the forged passport applications. Affif did not enter any plea and his case was adjourned until May seventh. Earlier this year fifty-two year old Hassan El Sayed was brought up on similar charges. But when El Sayed reappears before Chief Magistrate Lord on Tuesday of next week, the court will attempt to merge his case with Affif’s, so that instead of two separate trials, there will only be one. Prosecutor Jacqueline Willoughby did not object, but asked the Chief Magistrate to impose conditions if bail is granted to Affif. These include that all travel documents be turned over to the court, that Affif report to the clerk of court at least once a week, and that he be barred from contacting any of the witnesses in the case. Defence Attorney Simeon Samson objected to the bail conditions arguing that Affif is a businessman and that the nature of his work requires him to travel. Impounding his passport, Samson argued, would severely hamper his business. Sampson also argued that requiring Affif to report to the clerk of court would be demeaning, and offered instead to have his client report to the Queen Street police station. After considering the arguments, Chief Magistrate Lord denied Sampson’s requests and offered Affif bail of two hundred and fifty thousand dollars plus one surety of the same amount, which he met. Affif is also to surrender his travel documents to the Magistrate’s Court on the condition that if he needs to travel, his attorneys would inform the court in writing and the passports will be released to them. Affif is to report to the clerk of court weekly and Lord ordered the prosecution to turn over all evidence to the defence team by May third.

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