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Enraged attorney nearly cited for contempt of court as 80-year-old client is convicted of drug trafficking

Posted: Thursday, December 1, 2022. 9:21 am CST.

By Breaking Belize News: Three people, including an elderly retired educator, were convicted of drug trafficking in the Belize City Magistrate’s Court this week, causing their lawyer to erupt in court.

Giovanni Eugene Vasquez, 29; Kristian Young, 29; and retired teacher, Brenda Vasquez, 80; who were all arrested in 2020 on three counts of possession of controlled drugs with intent to supply to another, were found guilty on all three counts.

Their attorney, Senior Council Mansel Thurton sprang to his feet following the verdict, blurting out “There is nowhere in the Prosecution’s evidence of the weight being proven.”

Senior Magistrate Baja Shoman cautioned Thurton about his tone and warned him that he would be cited for contempt of court. Thurton then left his seat at the side of his clients and went to sit on a separate bench, leaving the Senior Magistrate to address the three convicted persons directly.

The trio all pleaded with the court for leniency, the elder Vasquez asking the magistrate to consider her age and the other two convicted noting that they were first offenders. After considering their pleas, the Magistrate fined them all $805, $1,505, and $1,005 respectively for each of the three counts — a total of $3,315 each.

They were given until February 28, 2023, April 30, 2023, and May 30, 2023, to pay their respective fines or face six months in prison for default.

Following the ruling, Thurton notified the court that he will file an appeal immediately. In Vasquez’s case, Breaking Belize News (BBN) understands that she resides with her grandson, Giovanni, as a matter of convenience for her health in her elderly years. Some concerned residents have reached out to BBN to question whether justice was fairly served in her case. It begs the question of whether or not draconian laws in Belize, which are indiscriminately applied to all present members of any household when drugs and weapons are found, need to be revisited.

 

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