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Feb 27, 2002

Supreme Court affirms dismissal of Meerabux

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After weeks of anticipation, the verdict deciding the judicial fate of former justice George Meerabux is in…And his dismissal stands. In front of a packed courtroom, Justice Christopher Blackman denied four of Meerabux’s five points of complaint against the Belize Advisory Council and ruled that while a fifth was technically valid it could not form the basis of a successful motion. The legal team for Meerabux, attorneys Kirk Anderson, Wilfred Elrington and Hubert Elrington, had argued that the chairman of the Belize Advisory Council, Ellis Arnold should have recused himself from the proceedings because he was a member of the Bar Association, the same body that initiated and prosecuted the case against him. Justice Blackman ruled that because membership of the Bar is mandatory and there was no actual bias, the application could not succeed. Kirk Anderson told News 5 that while they accept the ruling, the Belize Advisory Council could have done things differently.

Kirk Anderson, Attorney for Meerabux

“There were certain positive things which arose out of the judgement, which we feel fairly comfortable with. Firstly, the finding that in fact the chairman of the tribunal, there may exist a reasonable suspicion of bias on his part, even though the judge, Mr. Justice Blackman concluded that as a matter of necessity he should have…he had to, not should have, preside over the tribunal’s proceedings. We take the view though that as regarding the matter of the chairman of the tribunal being, as a matter of necessity, required to preside over the hearing regardless of whether or not there is a suspicion of bias surrounding his role, we submit really that there was no necessity that arose for him to preside over that tribunal, in the sense that someone else could have been appointed. It doesn’t have to be from Belize, it doesn’t have to be a lawyer of five years experience in Belize. It could be a lawyer of five years experience from anywhere in the Commonwealth for instance, anywhere in the Caribbean for instance, who could then have presided over those proceedings of that tribunal.”

the second point advanced by Meerabux was that the five members of the Advisory Council tribunal were not his peers, as defined by the constitution. While Justice Blackman agreed that the Advisory Council is unique when compared with the models in the rest of the Commonwealth, he was forced to recognise that it is the legally constituted entity to hear such cases. Given the strongly worded comments from Justice Blackman about the peculiar structure of the Belize Advisory Council, News 5 asked Solicitor General Elson Kaseke what, if any, repercussions would follow.

Elson Kaseke, Solicitor General

“We will have to study his comments carefully. They are not binding in respect of this decision, they were just “oh by the way”. And we have study them carefully and maybe advise the government accordingly.”

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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