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Apr 4, 2002

10 yr. old insurance claim case finally ends

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The wheels of justice turn slowly in Belize, due in part, to the backlog of cases before any one of the country’s courts. But the case we’re going to tell you about tonight is unprecedented because it spans ten years, involves three deaths and today, is finally over. Way back in 1991, a fire on Albert Street completely destroyed the Monte Carlo store. The shop’s owner, Adnan Jundi immediately filed a claim with his insurance company, Regent Insurance. But when his claim was denied, Jundi took the company to court. It took five years and eight months for the case to be called. Justice George Singh heard both sides, but died before closing arguments could be delivered. Justice John Rivero was eventually assigned the case, but was killed in a traffic accident before he could pass judgement. This legal battle took another twist in November of 1999 when the plaintiff, Adnan Jundi, died in Lebanon. Nevertheless, the case proceeded without him in October of 2000, this time in the courtroom of former justice George Meerabux. But just when it looked like the case of Jundi vs. Regent Insurance and Company Limited was going to be settled, an order to review the evidence before the court to determine whether or not it should continue with the evidence presented or if a new trial was necessary, Meerabux was removed from the bench. So finally, the case landed on the table of Justice Christopher Blackman who heard arguments from attorneys Derek Courtenay, representing Jundi, and Denys Barrow appearing for the insurer. Today, eleven years after the fire and thousands of dollars in legal fees later, Justice Blackman has ruled that there is no basis to continue the case because the plaintiff is dead. This afternoon, News 5 spoke with attorney Denys Barrow for his comments on the judgement.

Denys Barrow, Attorney for Regent Insurance

“As a matter of law, there needed to have been a new trial unless both parties agreed. And even if both parties agreed, I still have some reservations. But if both parties agree, possibly the new judge could have read the evidence given at the earlier trial, and made a determination based upon that. But that to my mind would have been absolutely unsatisfactory especially in a case such as this, where the principal allegation being made by the insurance company is that the fire was deliberately set.”

Attorney Derek Courtenay declined to be interviewed on camera, but via telephone told our reporter that the case was unfortunate because it took so long, but at least it is over.

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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