The TV station, however, says it is standing by its story
Amandala understands that Hon. Edmund Castro’s attorney, Rodwell Williams, has initiated libel proceedings against Channel 5 by means of a letter sent to the television station yesterday, Wednesday. We were able to confirm this today with Channel 5’s CEO and news editor, Amalia Mai. The media house has indicated, however, that they are standing by their story.
Minister of State in the Ministry of Works and Transport, Hon. Castro, has successfully evaded all efforts by the press to speak to him personally ever since he was alleged by Channel 5 and a female whistleblower that he was involved in a visa scandal – the most recent of successive scandals that have shaken the current UDP administration.
On Tuesday, media operatives awaited the harried Belize Rural North area representative outside the Sir Edney Cain building in Belmopan, where he was attending Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting. After the meeting concluded, Hon. Castro arranged for his driver to meet him at the back of the building, while the other Ministers exited through the front entrance.
When Hon. Castro saw the media, who were desperately trying to get a word with him, he promptly got into his SUV and took off – as was the case at the Philip Goldson International Airport on Saturday. All the media got was a “goodbye kiss” as he sped off before he could be questioned.
The only communication that Hon. Castro has issued to the media since returning from the US was a press release that was apparently sent out on his behalf on Monday, in which it is stated that the Hon. Castro “rejects and condemns the viciously false and malicious story concocted about him by Channel 5 and its agent.”
Although he categorically denied being involved in any visa ring, Hon. Castro conceded that he “wrote a generic letter to the [Immigration] Department asking for consideration for the five visa applications” that the whistleblower reportedly took to the department.
Hon. Castro also said in his statement that he intended to sue Channel 5 and Alverine Burgess, the woman who claims she passed on to him four hundred thousand dollars in visa bribes from applicants over a six-month period.
There will be a meeting of the House of Representatives tomorrow, Friday, but there has been no official word on the reason for the House meeting, and neither has there been any disclosure of the matters that were discussed in the Cabinet meeting on Tuesday.
However, it is expected that the nation will hear Prime Minister Dean Barrow, who also avoided the media last Friday when he returned from a 9-day trip to the US, speak for the first time on the latest allegations of corruption on the part of another one of his Ministers of State.
It is also expected that Hon. Castro himself will appear in the House and speak about the allegations.
While Hon. Castro continually evades the media, he might have other issues to worry about, as now the Opposition say they have embarked on another recall effort besides the recall of Hon. Elvin Penner from his Cayo North East constituency – this time in Castro’s Belize Rural North constituency. This initiative is being spearheaded this time by PUP aspirant for Belize Rural North, attorney Arthur Saldivar.