AG Michael Peyrefitte gave Leader of the Opposition John Briceño 24 hours to bring proof of his charge that corrupt officials facilitate drug plane landings or be called a “liar!”
BELIZE CITY, Mon. Jan. 6, 2020– Early in his New Year’s Day address, the Leader of the Opposition, People’s United Party (PUP) Hon. John Briceño, the Orange Walk Central area representative, focused on crime and the failure of the Dean Barrow-led United Democratic Party (UDP) to address the issue.
Hon. Briceño also stated: “There was also a complete failure to seriously address drug-related crimes with an unprecedented number of drug planes landing. We have credible information which confirms that these illegal landings were being facilitated by corruption in the highest level of the UDP government.”
Hon. Briceño’s remark caught the attention of Attorney General Michael Peyrefitte.
Peyrefitte, in his capacity as the government’s chief legal officer, challenged the PUP leader to bring the evidence and warned him that if he failed to do so he could be subject to a libel and slander action.
Attorney General Peyrefitte said that he is giving the Leader of the Opposition 24 hours to bring proof of what he has asserted. If he does not bring the proof, AG Peyrefitte is prepared to label him “a liar.”
“It seems like we have become so accustomed to irresponsible comments by people and in the age of social media, almost immune to them. But when words come from the Leader of the Opposition for Belize, the person who wants to be prime minister, the person who would be prime minister if the PUP were to win in the elections, when you have irresponsible comments coming from him it’s a dangerous thing. The Leader of the Opposition says that he has credible information which is evidence of UDP officials high up in the government who are facilitating the landing of drug planes. Now if that is true and you have information on that, why would you sit on that information? If you have that information then produce that information because if you don’t have that information then what you’re saying is extremely libelous and that’s utter slander. I mean, that is a serious, serious thing to say on national television and as a part of your message from the PUP. Now I am giving the Leader of the Opposition twenty-four hours to provide that information,” said Peyrefitte.
The Attorney General, however, stopped short of saying what he would do if he was to be given the information that high-level government officials are facilitating drug plane landings, or what kind of protection the government would extend to Hon. Briceño, after he is debriefed.
Peyrefitte added, “If he doesn’t provide that information then I have to call him a liar and I will have to say that you cannot believe a word this man says if he’s going to say something like that and not produce the evidence. You are casting aspersions on a number of different people who are for sure not involved in any illegal activity. So for you to paint the senior officials in the UDP with that broad brush, without any evidence at all, that is just outrageous.”
When we spoke to Hon. Briceño today, Monday, January 6, we asked him for his reaction to what Attorney General Peyrefitte said.
Hon. Briceño said, “The Attorney General needs to look in the mirror. Who is running the country? Who is in charge of the police and the military? Who gets the intelligence about the movement of drug planes? Why when the police gets the intelligence from the U.S. most of the time they go to the wrong location?”
We asked Hon. Briceño what he thinks about AG Peyrefitte’s assertion that he is exposing himself to libel or slander.
“He could bring it on,” Hon. Briceño replied.
Feature photo: AG Michael Peyrefitte and Hon. John Briceño