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Editorial – Friday, August 16th. 2019

Editorial – Friday, August 16th. 2019
August 16
17:57 2019

Anybody who keeps abreast of public opinion through the social media will know how deeply distressed Belizeans have become about the justice system in Belize. It appears that the Police can manipulate the system by manipulating the evidence to suit a desired agenda. Some recent cases come to mind.

In the case of the three men, two Belizeans and one Guatemalan accused of having two high caliber assault weapons, an AK- 47 and a mini Galil 5.56 automatic, were found to be innocent, even though the Police had caught them red handed with the goods.

The court was able to dismiss the case against the men, because the Police had allegedly failed to produce the weapons as evidence.

Why did the Police fail to deliver important evidence in such a high-profile case involving dangerous assault weapons?
A second case involved two robust Police Officers who bludgeoned a man to death in San Pedro. The two men were set free after spending nine months in detention. The Court was informed that these two men deserved special consideration because they were Police Officers with impeccable records.

How is it that they can still have impeccable records after they beat a man to death?

We have seen the delaying tactic at work before, where a prisoner is kept for an unduly long time before being brought to trial, only to be set free on some technicality in the law.

It happened in the case of Cowboy Alvarez, a Police Officer who shot and injured two pursuing officers in Orange Walk. It happened again in the case of Cpl. Darrel Usher, a career cop arrested for handling two suitcases of marijuana.

It happened once more in the case of Danny Mason, a man charged with the death of Pastor Lucas, whose decapitated head was found in a plastic bucket inside Mason’s locked pickup truck. It is happening again in the case of the two Police Officers accused of causing the death of Nestor Vasquez Jr.

There can no justifiable reason for any of these cases being delayed for months and even years. It happens because the Police Department has an unacceptably high level of control over which cases go forward to trial and which do not.

This newspaper has argued before, and we do so again, that Belize needs to have a Department of Public Prosecution which gathers its own evidence and pushes its prosecutions independently of the Police.

It should have its own set of independent investigators and an aggressive District Attorney to push criminal investigations and follow-up prosecutions.

Mr. Prime Minister, Mr. Attorney General, Mr. Minister of National Security, are you paying attention? Or are you so concerned with matters of political succession, that you do not see the corrosive influence of Police indiscretions on the legal system?

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