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Jun 17, 2008

F.S.T.V. rebuilds walls on strength of Court of Appeal ruling …

Story PictureFor the last three weeks there has been relative peace along the banks of the Haulover Creek after several court judgments ordered that the walls at the Fort Street Tourism Village should come down and the boardwalk should remain intact. But that all changed today when the F.S.T.V. emerged from the Court of Appeal victorious after the panel of judges agreed with attorney Godfrey Smith that the Chief Justice erred in law when he made that decision. News Five’s Janelle Chanona explains.

John Mulligan, Head of Security, F.S.T.V.
“I’m happy that we got the results we deserved. We all along knew that what we were saying was correct and it was refreshing to see judges come out and actually think the same way were trying to tell people here in Belize.”

Janelle Chanona
“And how quickly can you mobilise the put back of your property?”

John Mulligan
“I’m gonna have to wait for the management to come back and make those decisions. I’m just a small part in a big wheel.”

Janelle Chanona, Reporting
That was the reaction of representatives of the Fort Street Tourism Village this morning after the judges of the Court of Appeal set aside the ruling of Chief Justice Abdulai Conteh. On March eleventh, the C.J. found that the walls surrounding the Village violated the constitutional rights of the owners of Brown Sugar Marketplace and Michael Collin Gallery to make a living.

Godfrey Smith, Attorney, F.S.T.V.
“The allegation was that the Fort Street Tourism Village had breached the claimant’s right to work. Right to work has a meaning, it has a legal meaning. Certain legal thresholds must be met if you were to get the relief you want and in the case it simply wasn’t met.”

Janelle Chanona
“And that order would affect the judgment, ruling as far as how it affects the Port Authority and the Attorney General as well?”

Godfrey Smith
“Oh absolutely. In fact, that was a point we were careful to point out; that even though the Attorney General representing the Port Authority had abandoned and withdrawn the appeal, our argument was that didn’t matter. The fact was that the judgment had no proper legal foundations and so all of it had to go; not only against Fort Street Tourism Village, but against the Attorney General and the Port.”

Janelle Chanona
“Mr. Musa any initial reaction? You plan to go to the Privy Council?”

Edward “Billy” Musa, Investor, Brown Sugar Marketplace
“Please check with my manager.”

Janelle Chanona
“Christian? Any plans to go to the Privy Council?”

Christian Riverol, Manager, Brown Sugar Marketplace
“We have to go back. Out Board of Directors and myself, we have to meet and discuss what the next step is from here. So no final plans yet if we’ll go to the Pricy Council. I guess we’ll sit down and discuss that; what the next plan is from here.”

Fred Lumor, Attorney, Brown Sugar/ Michael Collin Gallery
“We lost and, we lost and I commend the winning side and congratulate them.”

And while the Court of Appeal decision is a disappointment to owners of Brown Sugar and the Michael Collin Gallery, their attorney Fred Lumor insists the case is not over yet.

Fred Lumor
“There are fall back positions of us so although the cloud looks gloomy, there are some silver lining. I can promise you that.”

Janelle Chanona
“Mister Smith conceded that what he felt did it for him was the fact that his client never breached your clients’ right to the opportunity to make a living. Do you feel that you could have responded stronger to that?”

Fred Lumor
“No, there is nothing I can. You saw from yesterday that the position of the courts was very clear. And secondly, the reason why they are making that argument is that government was to pass legislation giving them the status of an international port of entry but government failed to do so. But they are actually acting as an international port of entry. But they are saying that because we are doing without legislation we are private so no public law remedies can be sought against us. So it’s an ingenuous argument but we lost on that one.”

Janelle Chanona
“But do you now attack the government?”

Fred Lumor
“Oh yes, government will virtually be liable for anything that happens over there. That one I can assure you, there is no dispute about that.”

The Court of Appeal judges will submit their reasons for the judgment in writing at a later date. But this morning the judges panel did award cost of court for the Supreme Court and the higher court proceedings to the F.S.T.V.

Janelle Chanona
“How much you think Rodwell will tax you for court now?”

Fred Lumor
“Well, it’s a big litigation. That is a million dollar question but we’ll deal with that.”

F.S.T.V. Manager James Nisbet is out of the country but via phone he told News Five that temporary gates will be put in place along the boardwalk until more permanent security structures can be put in place. Reporting for News Five, I am Janelle Chanona.

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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