April 26, 2002

Supreme Court Justices Rule in Favor of Environmental Groups

First round victories bode well for justice in Belize

Justice Blackman of the Belize Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Belize Alliance of Conservation NGOs (BACONGO) on Friday, April 26, in a lawsuit challenging approval for Fortis' deal, worth $500 million deal to sell hydro-electricity at elevated rates to consumers.  Justice Blackman ruled that BACONGO had demonstrated that there was enough evidence to go forward with a full hearing in the case, and granted "leave" for BACONGO to argue the case later this summer.

This is the second major ruling in favor of BACONGO this year.

BACONGO filed an earlier lawsuit which charges proponents of the dam project with breaking Belize's environmental laws, and beginning construction illegally.  The Chief Justice of Belize's Supreme Court, Abdullah Conteh granted leave in that case, overrulling objections by Fortis' lawyers.  Judge Conteh chided pro-dam lawyers saying: "This is not about technicalities, this is about justice."  A hearing in this case is set for June 11.

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