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Businessman, 31, shot at wife, 29
Businessman, 31, shot at wife, 29

He is charged with aggravated assault

A businessman who has been in police custody since Sunday, when his 29-year-old wife reported to police that he pulled out his licensed firearm and fired a shot which missed her, was remanded to the Belize Central Prison after he pleaded not guilty to a charge of aggravated assault with a firearm.

Enfield Reyes, 31, a businessman of a King Street address, appeared before Chief Magistrate Ann Marie Smith, who remanded him to prison until his next court appearance on June 6.

Reyes is being represented by attorney Ellis Arnold, Senior Counsel.

According to the complaint against Reyes, on Sunday, he became involved in a domestic dispute with his wife at their King Street home, and he allegedly pulled out his licensed firearm and fired a shot at her, but fortunately, he missed.

His wife reported the incident to police and demanded court action. Besides demanding court action, the traumatized wife is also seeking a restraining order against him.

The couple are said to be the parents of a two-year-old daughter, who was at home when the incident occurred.

Reyes runs a grocery store at the corner of King Street and West Canal, while his wife runs a beauty salon on King Street.

San Cas messenger, 41, murdered
San Cas messenger, 41, murdered

Father of 6 was shot in the midsection; police say it was a robbery attempt

Shortly after 4:00 p.m. this evening, a well-known cyclist and office assistant for the San Cas group of companies, was callously shot to death during an apparent robbery attempt that took place in the area known as “Junesville,” located behind the Charles B. Hyde Complex Building in the Lake Independence area of Southside Belize City.

The victim, identified as Ernest Thurton, 41, popularly known as “Dangalang,” a father of six children, who had been working for San Cas for the past 20 years, was reportedly making a routine check at his sister’s house near Cumberbatch Street, which he had been caretaking, when he was ambushed by two assailants and viciously shot once in the right side of his midsection. He was left to die on the ground next to a coconut tree in his aunt’s yard.

Amandala understands that the perpetrators were lay-waiting the unwary office assistant to rob him, but when Thurton realized what was about to happen, he ran, and the gunman fired a single shot that caught him in his midsection, killing him almost instantly.

The wails of his distressed relatives soon filled the air as they made their way to the scene of the crime after receiving the grim news of Thurton’s sudden and untimely demise, while police officers proceeded to cordon off the scene to control a mob of spectators who had gathered outside the yard where Thurton’s body lay face-down in a patch of sand and grass under the canopy of a coconut tree in his aunt’s yard.

Shortly after Thurton’s body was carted off, to screams and wails from his devastated family members who had gathered at the scene, we spoke to his employer, Caribbean Shores area representative Hon. Santiago “Santino” Castillo, who was visibly sad at the terrible turn of events.

He said, “Ernest Thurton, better known as ‘Dangalang,’ started working with me about 20 years ago at Santino’s [Ltd.]; he was also a rider on Team Santino’s who transferred to San Cas [Cycling Team] when I did, and really was not a troublemaker at all.”

Castillo confirmed that Thurton was on the job when he was murdered in cold blood.

“He was taking some checks, because he did not handle cash; he’s a messenger and he took some checks to the Income Tax Department and I understand he was caretaking his aunt’s house, so he passed here either before or afterwards to look at the house, and he was apparently lay-waited at that time. He probably saw the guys and was running away from them – one of them even left their slippers at the scene – and it seemed that one shot caught him in the left side and he then fell under the coconut tree,” Castillo explained.

Castillo then sorrowfully said, “It’s a sad way for a good guy to lose his life. I just rode a race with him on Sunday, and although I am a member of the Government, I will say that we really have to address crime in Belize, because it’s getting closer to all our homes.”

We then spoke with Thurton’s heartbroken sister, Lorraine Thurton, who was obviously traumatized by the sight of her brother lying motionless inside the yard.

She said, “I just came from a funeral and before I got home I heard the ambulance and said to myself that I hope it’s not anybody that I know got shot. As I reached home, I got a call and they told me that my brother just got shot at my aunt’s house in Junesville, and when I arrived, I saw that it was him.”

Thurton explained that her brother frequented the house every day, because he was supervising the property while his aunt is in the United States.

“All he does is to ride races and work for Santino’s; that’s all. He does not have problems with anybody. I think that they believed that he probably had money on him; that’s why they targeted and killed him,” she said.

Lorraine notified us that her brother – who was a father of 6 (4 daughters and two sons) – had wedding plans with his common-law wife, which must now give way to his funeral arrangements.

We contacted Administration Officer at Precinct 2, Jorge Lemus, who told us that their investigations have so far revealed that Thurton had gone to water plants at his aunt’s house when he was attacked by two armed robbers, who shot and killed him before stealing a box with checks and other documents that Thurton had in his possession.

Lemus noted that investigators are presently following all leads, and are currently seeking two suspects and the vehicle that they were allegedly driving when they committed the crime.

Four “blood moons,” the first visible from Belize around midnight on April 15
Four “blood moons,” the first visible from Belize around midnight on April 15

Forecaster Francisca Wellington told Amandala today that the total lunar eclipse—a phenomenon known as the “blood moon,” because the moon will appear copper red—is expected to be visible from Belmopan sometime after 11:00 p.m. on Tuesday night, and data available to her indicates that the eclipse will run for 3 hours 35 minutes, with the total lunar eclipse spanning 1 hour and 18 minutes.

Information Amandala has obtained from NASA’s website indicates that tonight’s “blood moon” will be one in a series of four consecutive lunar eclipses to occur roughly six months apart in 2014 and 2015. NASA says they will occur on April 15, 2014; October 8, 2014; April 4, 2015; and September 28, 2015.

This is called a tetrad, but what is rare about this tetrad is that it also falls on the dates of two major Scriptural feasts: the Passover (Pesach) and the Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot), in both 2014 and 2015.

Some have ascribed prophetic meaning to this co-occurrence, citing several verses in both the prophetic writings and the messianic Scriptures.

Joel 2:31 says, “The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of YAHUAH come.”

This was repeated in the book of Acts, when the Apostle Kepha (Peter) said, “The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of YAHUAH come: And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of YAHUAH shall be saved.” (Act 2:20-21)

It has also been noted that a solar eclipse is scheduled to occur on the next Scriptural New Year on March 20, 2015, and this total solar eclipse is estimated to fall between the first two and the second two “blood moons,” leading some to point to this writing in the Apocalypse of the Apostle John:

“And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood.” — Rev 6:12

Of note, is that another sequence of “blood moons”—a triad, because they are three consecutive total lunar eclipses—is due to occur in about three years: on January 31, 2018; July 27, 2018; and January 21, 2019.

Belize City homicide rate high on global scale
Belize City homicide rate high on global scale

According to the Global Study on Homicide 2013, a report published by the UN which provides a comparative analysis of the rate of homicides across the world, not only is Belize among the countries with the highest homicide rate in the world, but Belize City records the fourth highest homicide rate among the most populous cities in the Americas, at 105 per 100,000 persons living in the jurisdiction.

“Intentional homicide caused the deaths of almost half a million people (437,000) across the world in 2012. More than a third of those (36 per cent) occurred in the Americas, 31 per cent in Africa and 28 per cent in Asia, while Europe (5 per cent) and Oceania (0.3 per cent) accounted for the lowest shares of homicide at the regional level,” the UN study said.

The study connects the high rate of homicides in the Americas with organized crime and gangs, with the problem being more pronounced among males:

“The global male homicide rate is almost four times that of females (9.7 versus 2.7 per 100,000) and is highest in the Americas (29.3 per 100,000 males), where it is nearly seven times higher than in Asia, Europe and Oceania (all under 4.5 per 100,000 males). This is due in large part to the higher levels of homicide related to organized crime and gangs in the Americas than in other regions,” the report said.

The report estimates that overall, organized crime/gang-related homicide accounts for 30 per cent of homicides in the Americas, compared to less than 1 per cent in Asia, Europe and Oceania.

The table showing the intentional homicide count and rate per 100,000 of the population in the most populous city, by country/territory (2005-2012), demonstrates that the homicide rate in Belize City has been on a steady rise, from 74.2 in 2005 to 105 in 2011.

In that same year, Guatemala City reported a homicide rate of 116.6 and Tegucigalpa, Honduras, 92.9.

Of note is that homicide rates in Africa, Asia and Europe are generally lower than in the Americas.

Police United suffers first defeat
Police United suffers first defeat

Police United suffers first defeat. Who dunnit? – “FC Belize, Oh yes! Oh yes!!”

FC Belize 1:0 Police United at MCC

It was do-or-die for FC Belize, whose fading playoff hopes hinged on a victory yesterday against previously undefeated Police in the Premier League of Belize (PLB) Belikin Cup Closing Season 2013-2014. League leading Police came into the MCC riding high with confidence, having drawn once and winning 5 of their 6 previous outings. But on this Sunday they would be without their regular sweeper, Kishane “Grill” Pech, who was suffering from a toe injury; and FC Belize were featuring their new young striker from Orange Walk, Michael Whittaker, on whom their hopes were raised for a turnaround in fortunes, as he would combine with league leading scorer Jarret Davis to make the FC Belize attack one of the most formidable in the Premier League.

Well, the hype was not all hot air, as the young man from the north delivered in impressive fashion to give FC Belize the goal they would defend all the way to gain a desperately needed 1-nil victory against Police United yesterday at the MCC.

It was an exciting an evenly matched contest all the way, with a number of close calls on both sides, with both goal posts shaking and goalkeepers diving, Elroy “Zabble” Rowley for FC Belize and Keith Allen for Police having to make some spectacular saves from rockets shot by Police and FC Belize strikers. But the one that would count happened from amidst a melee in front of Police’s goal following a high center from the left side, and the alert Whittaker pounced on the bouncing ball about 10 yards out and sent a low bullet just inside the left goalpost that gave Allen no chance; 1-nil, FC Belize, at the 37th minute of first half.

In gaining the much needed victory, however, FC Belize also had a major loss, as leading goal scorer and all around star, Jarret Davis, who dropped back to play midfield yesterday, was red-carded after receiving a second yellow card about 10 minutes before the end. Some players need to be pumped up for big games, and some need to be toned down. Jarret is one of the latter, and the danger looked imminent after he had been served his first yellow.

At the time of Jarret’s ejection, FC Belize had been enjoying a one man advantage, as Police right defender Glen “Tipu” Martinez had received an instant red card 22 minutes earlier from referee Ephraim Guy, following a dangerous pegs-up block of FC Belize’s Leon “Lem” Jones’ attempted shot.

The difference in the ball game was the perfect execution by striker Michael Whittaker, fulfilling all the previous hype from FC Belize inside sources. But, aside from Whittaker, our players of the game had to be FC Belize’s two flank defenders, Leon “Lem” Jones and Ryan Gill, who both played a whale of a game. Lem was most outstanding, as, a converted striker with power and speed, he has developed into a major force on defence; and Ryan, for all his flimsy looking torso, is like “sticking plaster” on much bigger and faster forwards, none of whom has been able to have their way around him.

The Belize City fans enjoyed a real treat yesterday, half-time show and all with Heights of Vibes in attendance, as it was the first home win this season for FC Belize, who now appear poised to make a serious run for the playoffs, and even the championship.

And Police? There is no cause for any heads to be bowed, as, even when a man down, the relentless Police United attack remained a serious threat to the FC Belize defence.

FC Belize – goalkeeper, #01 Elroy Rowley; #12 Leon Cadle; #2 Andrew Allen; #6 Ryan Gill; #15 Leon “Lem” Jones; #25 Steven Baizer; #8 Kristan Perez; #3 Ryan Simpson (#14 Jorge Aleman at 88’); #10 Jarret Davis (red card at 83’); #39 Devaun “Beckham” Zuniga (#17 Marlon Gutierrez at 68’); #24 Michael Whittaker (#27 Francisco Briceno at 56’).

Police United FC – goalkeeper, #00 Keith Allen; #21 Cristobal Gilharry; #22 Trevor “Burger” Lennan; #19 Byron “Barrow” Usher; #4 Glen “Tipu” Martinez (red card at 61’); #12 Devon Makin; #10 Harrison “Cafu” Roches (#9 Lennox “Criminal” Castillo at 73’); #13 Amin “Tacos” August, Jr. (#23 Jermaine Jones at 88’); #5 Andres Makin, Jr.; #14 Daniel “Danny” Jimenez (#11 Jeremy Bermudez at 64’); #16 Clifton West.

Referee was Ephrain Guy, and his assistants on the field were Daniel Uh and Ricardo Ake.

There will be no PLB Belikin Cup tournament break for the Easter. In fact, it gets rougher, with mid-week games scheduled for every Wednesday until the end of regular season.

Maya threaten to block US Capital
Maya threaten to block US Capital

Communiqué from SATIIM: “we along with our communities will take all necessary actions to block US Capital Energy from entering our Maya customary land”

Lisel Alamilla, Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and Sustainable Development, has confirmed that the Government intends to issue an extension to its permit to US Capital Energy to continue petroleum operations inside the Sarstoon-Temash National Park—a move which has the Maya community up in arms, and threatening protest action to stop the oil company from proceeding with works inside the park.

Indications to our newspaper this morning are that the Government is looking at revisiting the position it took last week to extend the permit, which expires at the end of April, but we have had no signal yet that it has, in fact, decided to change its stance.

After a meeting held on Friday, April 11, the communities of the Sarstoon Temash region and the Sarstoon Temash Institute of Indigenous Management (SATIIM) issued a communiqué, expressing their concern over news that the Cabinet has taken a decision to extend the current permit of US Capital Energy.

The communiqué issued was firm that, “We will not stand idle as our political leaders abuse their authority to seek to extend the permit of US Capital Energy. Therefore, we have requested our legal team to move the court on this matter. Should Cabinet not rescind its decision, we, along with our communities, will take all necessary actions to block US Capital Energy from entering our Maya customary land.”

When we contacted Cabinet Secretary Carlos Perdomo Friday, to query that report, he said that he does not have any recollection of such a decision having been taken. He also told us that he could not divulge Cabinet details.

“We wish to make clear to the Government of Belize and US Capital Energy our decision on the matter of the Cabinet’s decision. We condemn any decision by Cabinet that seeks to circumvent the declarations and order of Justice Arana,” the communiqué issued by SATIIM said.

It pointed to last week’s ruling by Supreme Court Justice Michelle Arana, which they described as “self-evident.”

That ruling indicated that (1) the decision of the Government of Belize to allow oil drilling and road construction in the National Park is irrational and Wednesbury unreasonable, that decision having been made without the free prior and informed consent of the indigenous Maya communities, and (2) the decision of the Government of Belize to allow oil drilling and road construction in the National Park is in breach of the legitimate expectation of the indigenous Maya Peoples, that the Government of Belize would comply with their obligations under the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples to respect the rights of Indigenous Maya Peoples to their lands, territories and resources which they have traditionally owned, occupied or otherwise used or acquired.

The court then went on to issue an order, directing the Government of Belize to obtain free, prior and informed consent from the indigenous Maya peoples with respect to any contract permit or license that falls within the National Park.

Minister Alamilla told Amandala that the Government, via her ministry, would grant an extension of US Capital’s existing permit, as is the standard process. We asked her where Government stands on the order from the court, calling for it to seek the free, prior and informed consent of the indigenous Maya.

She said that the Government’s opinion is that the order would only apply to a new permit, and the US Capital permit is not new; it is merely an extension to an existing permit. She said that the requirement for consultation does not come into play for an extension to the permit.

She told us that they are not disregarding the ruling of the court, as precedent has been set by the practice of the Forestry Department and even Department of the Environment that they would grant an extension with merely a letter stating the reason why the extension is being requested.

Alamilla told us that it has been difficult to dialogue with the Maya community, because there are three different groups – the Toledo Alcaldes Association, the Maya Leaders Alliance and the Sarstoon Temash Institute for Indigenous Management – which have differing views. What Minister Alamilla did concede, though, is that the three organizations are unified in their insistence on the need for the Government to get the “free, prior and informed consent” of the Maya community.

Early in her tenure, Alamilla was given the portfolio for indigenous peoples, but that was never formalized. She was subsequently chosen to engage the Maya on these unresolved issues; however, she told us today that “that really has not materialized in any major way.” She said that the dialogue on oil has had to be led by Energy Minister Joy Grant, but she has absolutely no objection to engaging with the indigenous peoples on these issues again.

“One of the greatest challenges for Government is having clarity from them on leadership within their own group,” said Alamilla.

She told us that this “is the kind of quandary” for them, because if they go directly to the Maya communities to engage them, and not through the organizations, they would be accused of disregarding the systems which the Maya community has in place.

The question now is, whether any attempt to dialogue will be entertained by the Maya leaders, given the recent Cabinet decision and response of the Maya community to that decision.

They ended their communiqué Friday with some very strong words: “The time is fast coming when talking will cease. It’s up to our Government to decide which road we take.”

PUP reviving effort to recall Elvin Penner with judicial review of rejected petition signatures

On May 29, Elvin Penner is scheduled to return to the Belmopan Magistrate’s Court, where he has been charged with two criminal offences in a private lawsuit by the Citizens Organized for Liberty through Action (COLA).

The issue of his recall, however, resurfaced in compelling fashion when Supreme Court Justice Courtney Abel ruled to allow the Opposition People’s United Party (PUP) a judicial review of the Chief Elections Officer’s decision to invalidate 337 petition signatures on December 30, 2013.

A judicial review seeking a writ of certiorari against the Chief Elections Officer for her exclusion of 337 signatures was successfully argued by PUP attorneys Lisa Shoman and Anthony Sylvestre, representing claimant Orlando Habet and four others from the Cayo North East constituency.

Chief Elections Officer Josephine Tamai and the Attorney General were represented by the Deputy Solicitor General Nigel Hawke, who opened the hearing submitting that Habet and two of the applicants did not have the requisite “locus standing” for the application.

But Justice Abel did not uphold that submission. Instead, he allowed Habet to continue with the claim, citing that he is the PUP standard-bearer and as such, the decision of the Chief Elections Officer affected him. However, he “filtered out” two of the other claimants for ease of case management.

The decision has huge implications for the embattled Cayo North East area representative, the scandal-plagued Elvin Penner, who has so far been cast aside by his United Democratic Party leadership after his Won Hong Kim passport scandal took on a life of its own due to the public’s outcry to hold him accountable.

If the PUP can convince the court that the Chief Elections Officer did not act reasonably when she excluded some of the petitioner’s signatures, because, in some cases, they had signed the petition more than once, then they would be able to reach the threshold that is necessary to trigger the recall process in Cayo North East.

Following the hearing, Shoman explained to reporters what they are fighting to accomplish.

She said that they are fighting on behalf of the people who signed the petition twice, so that their petition can be counted.

She said that the law does not indicate a penalty for signing a petition twice.

“We are saying the law doesn’t say that it is a penalty at all. So if we get those 79 (who signed twice) and we get the 52 whose signatures didn’t match the binders and we get some of the 52 who they say were not registered, we will cross the threshold and there will be a recall referendum,” Shoman said.

Shoman added: “Now winning that referendum is another matter, but we are confident that we will be able to get the reliefs needed to be able to cross the threshold that the Governor General will have to trigger a recall referendum on Elvin Penner remaining as area representative, and I think, with the present climate, my client is very confident that we will cross that sixty percent threshold.”

The case is set to be heard on July 2, 3, and 4.

Suspected human remains found on Iguana Street
Suspected human remains found on Iguana Street

Some contract workers who were digging a trench on Iguana Street Extension in Belize City made a horrid discovery of what are suspected to be human remains which had become embedded in the earth just below the street.

While conducting excavation works on the right hand side of the street, Kirk Young, one of the employees who had been subcontracted by the Belize Water Services Limited (BWSL), noticed a strange sight within the dirt and decided to take a closer look.

Upon closer inspection, he told Amandala, he was able to distinguish what looked like possible human remains which had been lodged beneath the ground, probably for decades.

Young said, “I was digging the trench and we had dug out more than 3 feet when I came upon the bones. When I first saw it, I thought it was a rock, but when I lifted it up, it turned out to be part of what seemed to be a human skull, then after that I found other parts of it, such as parts of the leg, hand and so on. After that we called the police, who came and took the remains.”

The worker said that he believes that more than likely, based on their appearance, the remains belonged to an infant who had perished some time ago.

Administration Officer at Precinct 2, Corporal Jorge Lemus, briefed the media on the finding and said that investigators are currently working to confirm exactly what type of remains were found.

He stated, “At 10:00 a.m. this morning, the police received information of human remains being discovered on Iguana Street Extension. As a result, our detectives went to the area, where they saw what appeared to be bone remains. Belize Water Services is presently digging trenches in the area and the workers were digging a 3-foot trench when they came upon the remains.”

According to Lemus, the remains have since been sent to the Forensics Department and the police pathologist for further analysis.

In late November of 2012, BWSL workers who were digging trenches similarly found a batch of human bones on North Front Street near its approach with the Swing Bridge.

At the time, it was believed that they were the remains of someone who died in Hurricane Hattie and was later buried at that location.