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Oct 15, 2001

Chief Justice rules for UDP in land dispute

In other news that will only add to the Prime Minister’s financial headache, Chief Justice Abdulai Conteh ruled this morning that the Government of Belize acted wrongly when, following the 1998 elections, it occupied and constructed houses on land at the Bel-China Bridge owned by the United Democratic Party. In his ruling the Chief Justice declared that then Minister of Natural Resources Dito Juan had the authority to issue a free grant of land to the UDP, which at the time constituted the government. He also noted that once the transaction was registered it could not be challenged. Shortly, the court will assess damages, but the bottom line is that all those new nearly finished buildings will now belong to the UDP, along with the land they sit on, valued at around six hundred thousand dollars. A very happy Leader of the Opposition Dean Barrow called the decision a victory for the rule of law and ironically gave praise to Attorney General Godfrey Smith, whose efforts to clean up the judiciary made the ruling possible. Meanwhile, Barrow’s nemesis in Queen’s Square, Minister of Housing Dickie Bradley, preferred to focus on the issue of how the political party got the land in the first place.

Dickie Bradley, Minister of Housing

“This was very clear with this matter. Where the UDP is concerned, when they were in government they took that whole chunk of land and did not pay one dollar for it. That was very clear as to the onset of this whole argument between the PUP and the UDP. Whilst in government the UDP signed a piece of paper, giving the party, the UDP party that whole big valuable chunk of land without paying not even one dollar for it. That can’t stand, simply as that.”

Bradley says the government will appeal the decision.

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