Posted: Wednesday, September 1, 2021. 10:30 am CST.
By Aaron Humes: Cayo South area representative Julius Espat’s grievance with the House of Representatives, kindled in August of 2016, appears at an end after a Supreme Court ruling that his suspension was unconstitutional.
Espat first sued after then-Speaker Michael Peyrefitte at the end of a chaotic day in Belmopan, tried to have Espat “named” in parliamentary procedure for misconduct, and commanded police to drag him out. He was then denied his salary and constituency funds for some months.
The initial hearing before Chief Justice Kenneth Benjamin ended in the matter being struck for lack of merit but the Court of Appeal, Senior Counsel Andrew Marshalleck told Channel 7 News on Tuesday, overruled and sent the matter back to another judge of the court for determination.
Justice Westmin James took the case and this week in one of his final judgments for the court, ruled that Espat’s Constitutional rights were infringed, particularly in regard to having judgment from his peers in the form of a vote and ordered various declarations and the restoration of all lost salaries and benefits during the period of his suspension, plus 50 thousand dollars in vindicatory damages for a total of $95,000.
The bottom line according to Marshalleck is that Espat was in the House as an elected Member making representation subject to the Standing Orders. Those Standing Orders govern House discipline and “…as bad and in breach he was, so [was Peyrefitte.]”
There is no word on an appeal by the Government, which ironically Espat is now a part of as Minister of Infrastructure Development and Housing following the general election.
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