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Oct 31, 2007

Moya, Barrow deny impropriety in phone tapes

Story PictureIn an election year, most politicians agree that all is fair in love and war. But following the release of separate advertisements using recordings of closed door conversations, the People’s United Party has taken off the gloves. One ad prepared by the P.U.P. purports to include the voice of United Democratic Party standard bearer Melvin Hulse making derogatory comments about Maya Belizeans. But it’s the contents of the second commercial that has created even greater controversy because, as News Five’s Janelle Chanona reports, that recording appears to have been an inside job.

Zenaida Moya, Belize City Mayor
“No, I had no idea it was recorded, why would I incriminate myself?”

Janelle Chanona, Reporting
According to Belize City Mayor Zenaida Moya, immediately following the arrest of City Councillor Dean Samuels in late July for gun related offences, she met with then Human Resources Manager Dale Trujeque and former City Administrator Sharole Saldivar in her office to discuss the situation.

Zenaida Moya
“They told me about certain things, they said the gun was not in councillor Samuels name or something like that, whatever, so they wanted to ask me, what we should do.”

“I called Mr. Barrow and I told him, I said Mr. Barrow I’m here with Sharole and Dale – he knows Sharole and Dale – and they are here discussing the Dean Samuels situation and I would like some advice on the matter, can I put you on speaker phone?”

“I asked him and he said no problem Zenaida, let me speak with them and so Dale and Sharole were sitting here and I pulled the phone and I put it on speaker phone and said Okay Mr. Barrow, we’re here, noh”

A tape recording of the contents of the subsequent conservation has since been used by the People’s United Party to accuse the Belize City Council of withholding evidence from police investigators.

Moya maintains she only learnt of the tape’s existence when the political ad aired but is confident that nothing she said can be used against her.

Zenaida Moya
“I don’t believe there was no cover up. I think that whatever needed to come out, I believe came out. The whole fact that the police department is there to do its job and they are there to investigate whatever they need to investigate. We don’t stop them from investigating so how can there be a cover up?”

“I spoke to Mr. Samuels, I believe it was day before yesterday, Monday actually and he told me that he does have a gun license, that’s what he told me.”

Janelle Chanona
“But for that weapon?”

Zenaida Moya
“I don’t believe, I don’t know. I don’t know if it’s for that weapon or not but I must say that in terms of the investigation, during that time, Sharole was very keen in that investigation, she was the primary person doing all that investigation and so she would be the one who probably would know what and what but I really, as Mayor, you have deal with certain things and some people have a job to do.”

Dean Barrow, Leader of Opposition
“And it was certainly consistent with my clear legal sense of what the city council as a council ought to do and what the city council as a council ought not to do, so I have absolutely no difficultly with the recording having been made public.”

The person who allegedly taped the conversation, Dale Trujeque, today declined our request for an interview but the U.D.P. say they are eagerly awaiting the release of other recordings.

Dean Barrow
“I want to demonstrate to the public that the U.D.P. will do something about any candidate or official that’s involved in any form of corruption so I actually want to cheer them on and ask them to bring anything that they have that is in any way an indictment of any U.D.P. candidate because I am very, very serious and I want to demonstrate publicly that seriousness and that commitment. I am very serious about doing something about that.”

Zenaida Moya
“I know that you can splice different recordings so the people simply need to understand that. As it pertains to the legality, we are looking into that, we do have our lawyer who is researching the matter and again we feel that both individuals who were key staff, key employees, I feel that they are outright, blatantly breaching that confidentiality clause and that is something that is a legal matter that we are looking into.”

Dean Barrow
“It is clear that the P.U.P. is also using wiretaps, that they are tapping people’s phones, there are conversations other than that particular recording and that I find extremely disturbing.”

“Except for the fact that there is, as I said, something extremely distasteful about recording private conversations, I have no difficultly, I have no fear because I know that the things that upset the Belizean public, the things involving ministerial and official and ruling party corruption are things that I have never engaged in and will never engage in so let them fire away.”

Reporting for News Five, I am Janelle Chanona.

According to the P.U.P., former Citco employees Sharole Saldivar and Dale Trujeque will be appearing on the Positive Vibes morning show every Thursday morning to speak out about alleged wrongdoing at City Hall.

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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