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Editorial – Friday October 18th. 2019

Editorial – Friday October 18th. 2019
October 19
08:13 2019

Seventeen years ago, two able-bodied men employed by Bowen and Bowen Limited at its Coca-Cola plant in Belize City decided to rob the company which employed them. In the process they shot and killed four men, two security guards and two others who were fellow employees at the plant.

After a short manhunt the Belize Police caught both men. Both were tried and convicted of murder. An appeal which was taken all the way to the Privy Council determined that two of the shootings were incidental, but two were deliberate.

Leslie Pipersberg and Patrick Robateau have already served 17 years in jail, but their sentence for the double murder was not determined until earlier this month, when a ruling by the Caribbean Court of Justice persuaded
the Belize Supreme Court to provide a definitive sentence.

Justice Colin Williams last week brought closure to this tragic case by sentencing both men to 35 years in jail. They have already spent 17, so they have 18 more to go. This is a sad case of justice denied because these men deserved to know what their sentence is.

They should not be left guessing that it will be shorter or longer. They deserve to know. The uncertainty of not knowing is itself a heavy burden.

New guidelines by the Caribbean Court of Justice now require our Supreme Court to pronounce fixed sentences in all cases involving murder. The CCJ has also given an indication of what is an appropriate sentence for murder. Depending on the depravity of the killing, persons convicted of deliberately taking another person’s life can expect to serve between 25 and 35 years in jail.

We believe that the new guidelines will be effective in getting our young people in Belize to understand that murder is a serious offence. The death penalty is no longer an option for the Court in Belize, but 35 years behind bars will be for most people an effective deterrent.

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