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PM Blasts US Over Verde’s Arrest

PM Blasts US Over Verde’s Arrest
September 21
13:45 2019

Prime Minister Dean Barrow, at a press event on Thursday, was asked for an update on Reynaldo Verde, the Deputy Director of General Services in the Belize Tax Services Department who was arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in the United States two weeks ago, but with none to give, he unloaded a tirade against the US government for its handling of the case.

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Barrow said the way US authorities handled the case immediately following the arrest was “deplorable” and “disrespectful” not only to Verde but to the government of Belize. He said he still has not seen the details of the charges but understands it is an extortion type charge – “a regular, almost garden variety type criminal offense.”

“The US authorities have not acted in a way that the government of Belize finds satisfactory. Indeed they have acted in a way that should form the basis of some kind of complaint on our behalf, nothing to do with detaining this man or charging this man. The rules of committee, or relations between states recognize and accepts that each country is entitled to seek to protect its nationals,” he said before explaining how the US denied Belize this opportunity.

“When he was detained and the embassy of Belize found out, officials from the embassy made an attempt to see Mr. Verde and were denied what is a well-established international obligation on the part of the US…How on earth can the US government, supposedly ‘one of the greatest upholders of the rule of law in the universe’ deny Mr. Verde the right for his consular and embassy officials to have access to him?” Barrow angrily questioned.

“They finally allowed personnel from the embassy to see him on Thursday although they were able to maintain phone contact with him but I find it deplorable that not only was the embassy not given any information pursuant to their requests, which were grounded in their obligation to look after the welfare of a citizen of Belize,” he continued.

He said that embassy authorities weren’t only denied requests to see and speak with Verde but that they were even denied requests for information. “I am not going to get into the merits of the charge but I do complain bitterly about the fact that GOB and therefore Verde were disrespected by this failure, refusal by the US authorities to allow our consular personnel to have access to him,” Barrow said.

Verde, meanwhile, remains in US federal custody in Florida where he awaits charges of extortion and obstruction of commerce. It was reported that the charge may be related to a real estate issue with an unsatisfied US customer.

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