General — 21 November 2014 — by Rowland A. Parks
Gapi’s deadline passes; no apology and retraction from Monchie

BELIZE CITY–Today is the deadline for the People’s United Party (PUP) Orange Walk North standard bearer Ramon “Monchie” Cervantes, Jr., to “retract and apologize” to Deputy Prime Minister Gaspar “Gapi” Vega, the Orange Walk North area representative and Minister of Natural Resources and Agriculture.

The “retraction and apology” are being demanded as amends for an alleged conversation that was aired over LOVE FM on Wednesday, November 5, during a memorial for Ramon Cervantes, Sr., who had been found murdered in a shallow grave on a farm roughly 3½ miles down the Honey Camp road in Indian Hill, Orange Walk, on July 5, 2014.

The conversation was reportedly between Manuel “El Pelon” Castillo, a fugitive wanted for the murder, and the wife of Cervantes, Sr., and according to Vega’s attorney, Rodwell Williams, S.C.,  law partner of Prime Minister Dean Barrow, the allegations libeled his client.

Castillo is the man who police investigators believe is the ringleader responsible for the kidnapping and subsequent murder of the Cervantes patriarch. Castillo, in the conversation aired live by LOVE FM, made serious allegations against Vega and a number of Orange Walk police officers, but did not offer any proof of his allegations.

Attorney for Ramon Cervantes, Jr., former prime minister Said Musa, S.C., from the law firm of Musa and Balderamos, responded to Williams on Friday, November 14.

In his response, Musa told Williams: “Our client denies making or publishing any statement calculated to disparage the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Natural Resources & Agriculture, the Hon. Gaspar Vega. Following the abduction, torture and brutal murder of his father in July of this year, our client’s and other members of his family’s sole concern was to assist the authorities in their investigation into this heinous crime which shocked the nation and which certainly traumatized him, his mother, his sisters and their families with grief and fear.”

In the statement, Musa further declared, “The recorded conversation between Manuel Castillo, a fugitive from justice (and who the police say, was the ringleader of this murder) and the widow of the deceased was a matter of grave concern and public interest.

“At no time was our client or any member of his family actuated by malice against Hon. Gaspar Vega or anyone else. Our client felt duty-bound to act as he did in the circumstances where this suspected murderer had made very serious allegations, including accusations against the police in Orange Walk Town.”

Musa’s letter ends saying: “We are firmly of the view that our client had a legitimate interest to act in the manner he did to protect himself and his family from further harm, especially since it was alleged that he was the target of the killing.”

With the attorneys for both sides having expressed themselves on the issue of the bombshell recorded conversation, it remains to be seen if, or how, this matter will be played out in court.

From the Police Department’s high command, there has been nothing but an eerie silence in the face of very serious allegations against police officers in Orange Walk Town.

Yesterday, Sunday, however, the ruling United Democratic Party held a rally in support of Hon. Gaspar Vega.

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