Posted: Wednesday, March 16, 2022. 8:10 pm CST.
By Aaron Humes: This afternoon, Ramon Cervantes, Jr., Minister of State in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and Immigration, told us that seeing Noe Gonzalez, Mateo Pott and Angel Cardenas plead guilty to murder and manslaughter respectively in the death of his father Ramon Sr., 71, brings “some comfort” to those the elder Cervantes left behind.
“It has been a long time waiting to see justice done,” he said.
The Cervantes family has suffered significant turmoil while waiting more than seven years for the case to come to trial, and the younger Cervantes admitted that a full trial process might have further developed that comfort. But he noted that several major witnesses had died since the trial began, and it was the view of the Director of Public Prosecutions’ office that with the evidence they had on hand and particularly the direct confessions of the accused, that a plea would spare further agony and bring closure.
However, there are still some loose ends. The biggest of these is Manuel “El Pelon” Castillo, alleged to be the ringleader and on the radar of Interpol ever since the killing. He has yet to be found although Ramon Jr told us he keeps in contact with Interpol as they keep up the hunt for him.
Another is exactly why the older Cervantes was killed. Accusations in open court that Ramon Jr. himself had paid for his own father’s death were never substantiated and, in any event, denied, and came to nothing; Castillo’s explosive allegation that then-deputy Prime Minister and United Democratic Party grandee Gaspar Vega had ordered the men to hit someone else, who then mistakenly took out “Don Ramon,” as well as the alleged involvement of a senior police officer, were likewise not taken up. Police at the time said none of their evidence pointed to players other than the now-convicts and the absconded Castillo.
Sentencing is set for March 28 and the family will be allowed to make what are known as “victim impact statements” that will assist presiding Justice Herbert Lord to determine what sentence is sufficient for the now-convicted trio of Gonzalez, Pott and Cardenas. Not known at this time is what they will say in mitigation – and whether they will provide any explanation for “Don Ramon’s” untimely end.
Separately, a civil lawsuit concerning alleged libel of Vega by the younger Cervantes, revolving around a recorded conversation between Castillo and Ramon Sr.’s widow Vilma, is in limbo as no judgment was given by former Chief Justice Kenneth Benjamin in 2015 after hearing the case in full.
Then again, perhaps the electorate handed the ultimate victory to the younger Cervantes when he won the 2020 general election in Vega’s old seat of Orange Walk North, avenging a head-to-head defeat in 2015.
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