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The attorney general’s case against Andre Vega, the son of UDP politician Gaspar Vega, returned to the Supreme Court today. The Government is challenging the validity of the compensation agreement awarded to Vega for land he acquired but which he had to give up as it was discovered that it already had an owner. The matter became politically explosive and the Government was pressured to demand the return of the $400,000 paid.


In Court, Vega and Lands Commissioner Wilbert Vallejos testified before Justice Courtney Abel.

Vega is being represented by attorney Estevan Perera while Crown Counsel is Samantha Matute-Tucker.

The Government is asking the Court to void the compensation agreement entered into a year and a half after the land sale to Andre Vega. They argue that Vega should have known about an error with the title, he should not have purchased, and therefore the transaction went against public policy. On Vega’s behalf, Perrera challenged the Government’s claim that the compensation agreement was not valid.


Screen_Shot_2019-06-05_at_8.16.30_PMEstevan Perrera, Attorney for Andre Vega


“What our position is, is that there existed a ministers fiat grant and when one does a search that and they trace back title that is the documents that the Attorney and the searchers usually look for when trying to find as a good root of title because that’s the first title issued by the government of Belize and having found that and having traced a title to the ministers fiat grant, one am not seeing any kind of implication, mortgages or charges or any transfers, one would or should accept that that title is good and valid and because that title is signed off by the government of Belize we have to appreciate that it has the effects and the government stands behind the title.”


Reporter


“Sir, when this particular issue emerged documents became public knowledge in which technicians of the lands department told the bosses of the lands ministry that this particular piece of land is not available to let, shouldn’t your client have known this, shouldn’t your client been able to research and ensure that this particular piece of land was not available to light?”


Estevan Perrera, Attorney for Andre Vega


“Let me say firstly, that we have no knowledge of that communication or information that you just said and that did not form part of the claimant’s case, there was nothing that was presented in their evidence with that. Secondly, again when looking at a case like this one has to appreciate that when you or I or an investor or any Belizean goes to do a search on a title we trace back the title to the ministers fiat grant and the root of title and so it is extremely difficult if the government issues two ministers fiat grant it is extremely difficult for us or any searcher to find both and its not the same, same title it is not like what you are thinking that this title is identical to the other the one title that was issued subsequent was a title that forms a portion of the initial title so it is not identical one wouldn’t come across two title saying it is identical and it is an error it is difficult to be discovered by searcher …”


Reporter


“Mr. the public perception of this transaction within the ministry of Natural Resources is that they were playing an outright hustling, how would you respond to that?”


Estevan Perrera, Attorney for Andre Vega


“The claim here is not about any hustling is not evidence about us being put forward, there is no situation presented in their claim speaking of any hustling or indicating of any hustling or providing any evidence of any hustling and I made it clear if you noticed in the court I asked the Commissioner of Lands directly whether or not there were any indications of any actions taken by the first defendant to appear in the form a corruption and he indicted clearly and he said no.”

 

While the court heard oral submissions, written submissions by the claimants must be done on or before June 26th while the defense must file their submissions and responses on or before July 17th. The matter then returns to court on July 19th for further oral arguments. We will continue to follow up on this matter.

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