BELIZE-Court of Appeal rules in favour of opposition legislator


Opposition legislator, Julius Espat, says he will seek compensation after the Court of Appeal ruled that his ejection from the Parliament two and a half years ago, be heard by the Supreme Court.

Espat was ejected from the legislative chamber and without pay and is also asking the Court to rule that the decision to remove him from Parliament was unconstitutional.

Julius Espat being ejected from Parliament in 2016 (File Photo)

“We want to make sure that the decision that was done was erroneous.  So that is setting a precedence that even if you are the leader of a country, as in the case of the prime minister or if you are the speaker of the house within parliament you are also to abide by the rule of law,’ said Espat, the parliamentary representative for Cayo South.

He said he was also insisting that “I be paid back what was taken away from me.

“My salary was deducted for a large period of time and any other claim that we might decide.  We haven’t decided on that as yet.  But the most important, above all, is to set the rule of law in place.  And it can’t be done by means of rhetoric.

“So now we are relying on the third branch of government which is the judiciary, to set precedent as to what is right and what is wrong and for it to not happen again,” he added.

In August 2016, Espat was physically removed from the House of Representatives on the instruction of then House Speaker Michael Peyrefitte.

The Cayo South Area legislator was manhandled and ejected out of the building by several police officers after questioning aspects of the Auditor General‘s Special Audit on corruption at the Immigration Department.

Espat, whose hand was injured during the incident, and later suspended from the House, took the matter to the Supreme Court that struck out the claim on the basis that it lacked merit.

He filed an appeal and his attorney, Andrew Marshalleck , told reporters the Court of Appeal has set aside the lower Court order and remitting the application to strike back to another judge for hearing.

“I’m sure everyone can remember what happened in the House when the Speaker purportedly named Mr. Espat and had him physically removed from the premises.  Well immediately following that, we had filed suit alleging that those actions were taken in breach of the constitutional rights of Mr. Espat, specifically that the issue of the naming was never put to the House for a vote and that under the rules properly the House should have voted on whether or he should be named,” the attorney said.

“Instead, the Speaker usurped that power and exercised it without having put it to a vote.  What happened at first instance, in the court below, the Chief Justice acceded to an application to strike out the claim.  He found that the allegations of constitutional breach were without merit and struck out the claim on that basis.

“It’s been some time now so I can’t remember all the details specifically.  We had appealed against that decision and the Court of Appeal …handed down its ruling on the appeal setting aside the Chief Justice’s order and remitting the application to strike back to another judge of the court below for hearing,” Marshalleck said.

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