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Dec 1, 2010

Former immigration officer, Maria Guerra, vindicated

dean lindo

Former immigration officer Maria Guerra who was suspended indefinitely from her post at the Philip Goldson International Airport in the wake of a customs duties evasion scandal in mid-July, 2008, has now been rewarded full restitution by the Supreme Court.  Guerra, along with Jose Aldana, a businessman of San Ignacio Town, were jointly charged for knowingly attempting to shirk the law by importing eleven thousand, five hundred U.S. dollars into the country without a customs declaration.  Prior to the hearing, Guerra was placed on a two-month suspension by the Public Services Commission where she was to receive half of her salary pending the outcome of the case.  On September twenty-first that same year former P.S.C. chairman Rodney Neal swore in an affidavit that Guerra’s suspension would be extended but failed to enter into evidence an official document confirming the extension and date it would expire.  On April first, 2009, both Guerra and Aldana were freed of the charge following a not guilty verdict.  However, by July twenty-fourth the Public Services Commission informed her that it was considering disciplinary action for wrongdoing in relation to the monies she had in her possession.  The case, once again, sat in the Supreme Court until further action was taken against the Attorney General, the Director of Immigration, the Public Services Commission and the Belize Advisory Council on September twenty-seventh of this year.  The judgment was handed down earlier this week and representing Guerra was Senior Counsel Dean Lindo.

Dean Lindo, Attorney for Maria Guerra

“They proceeded nonetheless to try her again.  They found that she was guilty of misconduct.  Now I say right at this point that was one of the first grounds of appeal that we made that how can you, how can the Director of Immigration charge her with evasion of customs duty and the commission finds her guilty of some disciplinary offense?  In other words they had an obligation to hear the case to find out whether in fact it was proved that she was guilty of evasion then if they find it then they can go on to a disciplinary charge so that was the first round. Now essentially we were saying one: that the commission was wrong to hear this matter at all because they should have determined first of all that the person did commit an offense and then having decide that then they could charge her with [uhm] with committing [uhm] a disciplinary offense but they went ahead direct to discipline and we take the… saying in effect that this person is guilty and you didn’t hear him on that and he has a right to be heard. This thing takes significance because this is the third one I have done.  Recently it was the Aldo Ayuso case.  It was thrown out again because there were procedural impropriety and illegality.  Selgado’s case some five years ago [the] same thing happened.  The same thing happened in Brian Card’s case which is 1982 so there is enough precedence for the commission and the council to know how to act.”

Maria Guerra was offered reinstatement but because of tension that has arisen with the Immigration Department since the incident, she opted to be compensated.  She was awarded full damages with a six percent interest.

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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7 Responses for “Former immigration officer, Maria Guerra, vindicated”

  1. Robert says:

    More “lawyer’s games” and the people of Belize are cheated of justice AGAIN. Another crook is hired back into the government. GOOD WORK, BOYS!

  2. BZNinCALI says:

    I want to believe that the court did its job but we have seen the work it has done on other cases. Why are we not dotting our i(s) & crossing our t(s) & being beaten civilly & criminally. Are we paying our civil service people so much that they have that they lose track of that kind of change in their purses.

    No offense Mr Lindo, I thought you were dead.

  3. Earl Grey says:

    ARE WE SURPRISED????????????

    THEY WERE ONLY FOLLOWING ORDERS…………….. from higher up.

  4. rod says:

    shows the extent of this corrupt gov. all of their employees get off with robbery or anything else they wish to do no leadership what soever in this sick gov.

  5. Ashamed says:

    I have read all the comments and I am amazed at them. Justice is there for a reason and I do believe the saying goes, ” Innocent until proven Guilty!” Facts are facts and in this case and several other the facts dont add up so before you people go casting stones I believe research should be done before you type. Hurry to quick blame corruption etc. Have you all stop to think, what light you all are shining on your own country? I mean to make a mockery of the Justice System is utterly disgusting, think before you type and get your facts. And really to pass a comment saying you thought someone was dead when you are seeing them give an interview how petty is that? I am ashamed get the facts people and stop talking if you dont know.

  6. justice says:

    nicely said BZNinCALI! getting off because of a technicality doesn’t make you innocent.

  7. The Truth says:

    All you people are full of $#!%! How would you feel if allegations were made against you, you was found Not Guitly by a competent court, then a Kangaroo Court was set up by a Government Service body with instructions to charge you a second time, find you guilty and dismiss you/s this justice? Are we to encourage victimization and lawlessness/ Shut up if you dont know the facts. Well done Mr. Lindo, you got off an innocent young who was the victim of a vicious system! The Law is there to protect us. You fools be ware it might be your turn tomorrow. You disgust me with your senseless comments.

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