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Jun 8, 2006

SATIIM wins injunction against seismic work in park

Story PictureAfter two days of presentations in the Supreme Court, this afternoon Justice Samuel Awich handed down a decision in favour of the Sarstoon Temash Institute for Indigenous Management in its case against the Government of Belize. Awich placed an injunction on oil exploration activities by U.S. Capital Energy in the Sarstoon Temash National Park and put a stay on the company’s permit, pending the outcome of a hearing on the substantive issues. One of SATIIM’s attorneys Lois Young Barrow says today’s verdict is a preview of coming attractions.

Lois Young Barrow, Defence Attorney, SATIIM
?Our case has already been set out. We actually had a mini-trial in there over the last two days of the issues. So I don?t think we have much more work. It is fairly well set out already.?

Janelle Chanona, Reporting
?Your colleague called this a slam dunk case based on this decision today??

Lois Young Barrow
?Based on this decision, I think it?s still slam dunk. You know those two grounds that he cut out, which are legitimate expectation and unreasonableness, they are kind of nebulous grounds they are difficult to prove. I personally don?t agree that he should have cut them out and I?m going to consult with my client about taking those out, but the other ground which is unlawfulness because they didn?t comply with the law, that?s still a strong ground.?

Janelle Chanona
?Anything you wanted to highlight Ms. Lois??

Lois Young Barrow
?Well I was glad about the injunction and the stay. I?m delighted that he stopped progress and I?m delighted that he set an early date. We need to resolve this quickly and I think that this, twenty-ninth of June as the first hearing; I thought July was a little long, but as time goes and with the court calendar it?s probably reasonable.?

SATIIM and the government now have fourteen days to make preparations for the full trial. This afternoon, Justice Awich set July nineteenth as the date for the final determination of the matter. And for country representative of U.S. Capital Energy, Alistair King, that day can’t come too soon.

Alistair King, Country Representative, U.S. Capital Energy
?We?re already doing seismic work, we?ve been doing it since May, so yes, we are working outside the park. But this will interrupt us because we like to work one line; we like to complete each line at a time. So yes, it?s going to be a problem to us, but we?ll just have to hold.?

Janelle Chanona
?Will the company now be thinking about doing an E.I.A.??

Alistair King
?No, I don?t think so because our P.S.A. says we don?t have to do an E.I.A. So now it?s going to court and hopefully we?ll be able to continue under our present P.S.A. Because we don?t have a problem with a court, we?re working with the Ministry of Natural Resources and we have a contract with them. So they?ll have to see how they?ll resolve this matter with the court. We?ll have to resolve our matter with them.?

U.S. Capital Energy was represented in this week’s proceedings by attorney Derek Courtenay while former SolGen Elson Kaseke has been hired by the Forest Department and the Ministry of Natural Resources.

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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