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| Deputy ComPol arraigned for the manslaughter of Yolanda Valencia
Aug 19, 2014
In Succotz this morning, heated protestors set fire to used rubber tires along the George Price Highway. The blockade was the result of residents demanding justice in the case of Yolanda Valencia who perished in a traffic accident which left twenty-eight-year-old Yanie Cu clinging to life at the KHMH. The tragedy involved an intoxicated Deputy Commissioner of Police Miguel Segura, whose vehicle collided head-on into a cab driven at the time by Cu. Today, residents gathered by the dozens, placards in hand against the backdrop of burning debris, demanding that justice be served. This afternoon in the Belmopan Magistrates Court, Deputy Commissioner Miguel Segura, in the presence of Senior Counsel Ellis Arnold, was formally read six charges by Magistrate Aretha Ford. They include manslaughter by negligence, causing death by careless conduct, drove motor vehicle without due care and attention, driving with alcohol concentration above prescribed limit, negligent grievous harm and failing to alter direction to give way. News Five’s Isani Cayetano was in the west today and has the following story.
Isani Cayetano, Reporting
In the aftermath of a fatal road traffic accident involving Deputy Commissioner of Police Miguel Segura on Saturday morning, residents of Succotz are still very much incensed. The forty-eight-year-old senior officer, analysis would later prove, was driving his government-issued vehicle while under the influence of alcohol.
ACP Aaron Guzman, Western Zone Commander
“Everybody has his or her constitutional rights, if it is there is a traffic accident; there is a process that we go through. There are some people suggesting that the alcohol test could have been done by the breathalyzer that is not yet legal in Belize, we do not go by that that is why blood was extracted and it was taken to the lab. There is a process that is done at the lab to test the content of the alcohol. It is I can say to you above the legally prescribed limit. What will happen now is Mr. Arzu has prepared those charges for the blood alcohol content. Where it pertains to the traffic accident, we sought the advice of the office of the D.P.P. We have now been given the legal advice from the off of the D.P.P. So charges are being prepared, so as not to be accused of doing the wrong thing, we have prepared those charges and we are asking the office of the D.P.P. to proofread the charge to see that we have the correct sections etcetera. As soon as that is done the justice of the peace will sign it, Mr. Arzu the arresting officer will sign, Mr. Segura will be charged at the station, that’s his constitutional rights.”
Although the circumstances surrounding the deadly collision are still being investigated by his colleagues in the department, Segura was this afternoon arraigned on six traffic offences, including manslaughter by negligence. His indictment, however, succeeded the unrest outside of Benque Viejo this morning where scores of angry villagers blocked the highway with burning tires and debris. Jose Lopez is part of the mob.
Jose Lopez, Resident of Succotz Village
“We have to stand and fight because justice is not given in Belize. We will make justice exist in Succotz, you see people like Yannie Cu he is fighting there to try to get a surgery and police are coming accosting him making him sign to be guilty. What you think about that, that isn’t fair.”
“How long are you guys prepared to stand put here and prepare to protest to demand that the proper procedures be followed?”
“Well according to the people here all day. You would see we want justice. Everybody is saying we want justice, and what is justice for the police, nothing.”
Shortly after dawn, a scattering of men and women decided on obstructing the main thoroughfare into the village. The police would later respond to the scene of the fire and dozens more would converge on the location during the course of the day. Ordinarily, the combination of law enforcement officers, as well as a riot squad on standby, and livid protestors makes for a volatile situation. In spite of this, today would not end in violence. All they demanded was that ACP Segura be charged and made to face the music.
ASP Daniel Arzu, Lead Investigator
“I have prepared my charges I have served Mr. Segura with five copies of the traffic related offenses ranging from manslaughter by negligence, causing death by careless conduct, negligent grievous harm, driving without due care and attention and driving with alcohol concentration. Now you all need to work with me because I need to have Mr. Segura arraigned here this morning and I need to access the road so that he can reach to the courtroom. The charges are here and it is signed by a Justice of the Peace. This is an original signature. Thank you.”
“Beyond the acrid fume are dozens of angry residents who are demanding justice for the manslaughter of one of Succotz own as well as a cab driver she was travelling in a vehicle with on Saturday morning when it collided in to the vehicle driven by Assistant Commissioner of Police Miguel Segura.”
Despite the angry throng demanding justice, the ground commanders would meet with the families of the accident victim, before addressing the media.
“The situation out here like Mr. Thompson said we understand certain sentiments but there are other Belizeans who need to go about their normal business. However as you saw earlier when we came in we withdrew some of the Police officers, I want to say to the Residents of Succotz. You have to be careful of your economic viability. If it is a tourist village there is a lot of tourist as you see walking pass. So it will affect all of us. We will continue to be here to keep the peace and if these people decide that they want to picket and not block the street, the police will escort them to do their picketing, so we are only here to keep the peace and do our portion as the law allows.”
According to the mother of twenty-eight-year-old Yanie Cu, the only surviving victim, the family is in dire straits and cannot afford the cost of surgery.
Azucena Cu, Mother of Accident Victim
“The people is with me because the police don’t do nothing. The police don’t take my son when the accident happen. When the police reach and see my son inside the taxi, he went along and saw Segura and said what happen boss. So my cousin, instantly she died. What happened my son is in the hospital. We need twenty thousand dollars to let my son perform surgery. And if we don’t pay that my son won’t have that.”
The angst of the residents is fueled by viral amateur footage circulating across social media in which the Deputy Commissioner is seen casually exiting the damaged vehicle, lighting a cigarette and fixing his pants.
“You see when he pulling up his pants, smoking like nothing happen. If I do that I must come out run and help the victim. So he don’t do that. So we are upset. All the people here are from Succotz. So what was he doing with his pants down?
Isani Cayetano reporting for News Five.
| Retired educator butchered during grisly home invasion in Hopkins
Aug 19, 2014
Hopkins Village in southern Belize is a peaceful, picturesque seafront community, a thriving but laidback tourism destination. But the community has been devastated by a seemingly senseless and brutal home invasion on Monday evening, just before dark. Dangriga teacher Josephine Augustine and her husband, retired teacher Dudley Augustine, were at home when they were attacked. The elderly man was beaten and left for dead, while his wife was viciously butchered to death right in front of him. The couple was well known and much loved in the community and in the south, and today Police are investigating all leads to get to the bottom of the tragedy. Our News Five team was in Hopkins today and has the story.
Mike Rudon, Reporting
Hopkins is known for its informal, laidback atmosphere – popular for its beautiful beaches and unrestricted access to the Caribbean Sea. But the peace and tranquillity of the quaint community was destroyed on Monday evening when violence was visited on their own. Seventy-one year old retired teacher Dudley ‘Dudz’ Augustine and his wife Josephine reside in Dangriga, but spend every weekend in their home in Hopkins. They were here for the summer, and planned to return to Dangriga this morning. But death came unexpectedly before they could do so.
Supt. Ralph Moody, Southern Zone Commander
“Between five thirty and six pm Police responded to Hopkins Village where we saw the lifeless body of a female lying in a pool of blood, upstairs of a two storey building. Investigations revealed that the young lady suffered from two stab wounds to the back of her neck. On arrival at the scene we also received information that a male person who was later identified as Dudley Augustine, seventy-one years of age and a retired teacher, also suffered from some bruises to his forehead. He was rushed to the Southern Regional Hospital and was later transported to the KHMH.”
Concerned neighbours responded to the scene before Police. They were drawn there by the sound of Dudley Augustine screaming for help.
Voice of: Chelsea Castillo, Neighbour
“My sister and mi niece come and tell me that the old man deh bawl fu help inna di house so I run and I come fu check weh happen, but I neva mi wah jump di fence so one of mi cousin come and I tell a come check weh happen and e jump di fence fu see weh happen. Well he tell me the people deh een deh…the man deh een deh with e head buss, so I just jump di fence afta a and I see di man right een deh. But I neva see the lady. When I turn
round I bawl and I halla e wife. Some people mi deh een deh and they neva see di lady. I just bawl and I neva know weh fu do. I just bawl. I just noh know.”
Forty-seven year old Josephine Augustine was found lying behind the counter in the kitchen. Apart from the stab wounds to the neck, her face was swollen, likely when she tried to fight off the attackers. Dudley Augustine was found just inside the door.
Voice of: Chelsea Castillo
“He mi alive but back a he head buss. I neva know which part di blood come from cause all a he face got blood.”
“And the lady? What condition was she in?”
Voice of: Chelsea Castillo
“Well like whole a she face bloody. I neva know which part di blood come from cause she head mi deh face down and wah young bwoy turn a round and di whole a she face got lone blood…dead.”
Neighbours say they didn’t hear any commotion prior to the grisly discovery, and when they jumped the fence to check on the couple the front gate was closed. The couple’s dark green Isuzu Trooper, seen in this picture during happier times, was missing. The scene was processed by Police on Monday night, and again this morning.
Supt. Ralph Moody
“The scene was processed and her body was escorted to the Southern Regional Hospital for a post mortem. At this present moment we are conducting investigations and following all the leads that we have at this present moment.”
“Sir could you tell us from the processing of the scene does it appear that the motive was robbery?”
Supt. Ralph Moody
“Well it appeared to be a robbery. The house was ransacked and it appears that somebody was searching inside the room, so we are treating it as a robbery.”
This morning the couple’s vehicle was found abandoned at mile twenty-eight on the Hummingbird Highway, and has been towed to the Dangriga Police Station for processing. Reporting for News Five, I am Mike Rudon.
News Five has been reliably informed that two men, previously employed constructing the fence at the Augustine home in Hopkins, have been detained for questioning.
| COLA appeals Penner case
Aug 19, 2014
The private prosecution of Elvin Penner, brought by COLA representatives Geovannie Brackett and Nedal McLaren, was thrown out at the Magistrate’s Court level on July twenty-fourth. Penner walked out of court a free man, but the party bringing the claim against him had twenty-one days to appeal. It went somewhat under the radar, but that application for an appeal was filed last week Wednesday by Attorney Kareem Musa. Musa’s clients are petitioning the Supreme Court to examine the decision by Magistrate Aretha Ford which resulted in the matter being thrown out.
Kareem Musa, Attorney
“This particular hearing at the Supreme Court level will be an examination or a review of Section thirty of the Summary Jurisdiction Procedure Act. The Supreme Court judge that hears this case will take a review of that particular section to determine whether or not the Magistrate, in this instance Miss Aretha Ford, whether that Magistrate ought to have utilized her discretion under Section Thirty to summon the Commissioner of Police to attend the hearing and to deliver up all the evidence that was in his possession. The Magistrate determined that she would exercise her discretion not to summon the Commissioner of Police, and as you may recall she gave three reasons why he would not do so. We believe that this is a case of utmost national importance and it is absolutely necessary for a Supreme Court to look at that section of the law and to determine whether or not it is pointless, because I believe that this particular case involving the Commissioner of Police coming to testify…I believe that this section of the law is directly applicable. If you read that section, it actually contemplates situations where individuals or witnesses may not want to testify, and it gives the Magistrate the authority to summon those witnesses who do not want to come to court. So I believe it is a very important law and it needs closer examination by a Supreme Court to see whether or not that law holds any teeth or whether it is pointless.”
| Immigration Minister returns from Taiwan; still no Won Hong Kim passport
Aug 19, 2014
The best case scenario for the claimants would result in the summoning of Commissioner of Police Allen Whylie, along with his file containing all evidence gathered from the alleged investigation of Elvin Penner. The evidence would include all statements from witnesses, as well as files from the Immigration and Nationality sections. And if the claimants are having a really good day, the investigation file would include the infamous Won Hong Kim passport. It’s been almost a year since the scandal broke and that passport has been unable to find its way back home, even though Ministers, including Deputy Prime Minister Gaspar Vega, recently visited Taiwan. Musa gave us his version of the best case scenario.
Kareem Musa, Attorney
“As it is a Summary Jurisdiction matter it would be sent back to the Magistrate’s Court for a proper trial. As you know this trial was thrown out based on a technicality. Yes, the magistrate ruled that there was no evidence, but there was no evidence because the Commissioner of Police did not attend to deliver that evidence before the court. So we would be sending that matter back to the Magistrate’s Court for a proper hearing and a proper trial so that Elvin Penner can in fact face justice.”
“Are you contemplating in the future, if this goes back to the Magistrate’s Court…would you then be looking at subpoenaing other persons? Because you mentioned for instance Ady Pacheco. I have seen the reports and they have offered a lot of information.”
“My understanding is that that might not be necessary. You see, once the Commissioner delivers up his file, all of the statements are there so once I have in my possession all of the statements including Ady Pacheco’s…including the Minister of Immigration Godwin Hulse, because I have heard that he has given statements…so if I get that in my possession there would be no need for me to apply under Section Thirty for the Magistrate to subpoena those people. With those witness statements in my possession I would be able to summon them on my own because I know they have given statements.”
“The Deputy Prime Minister was in Taiwan…would you have expected that he brought back that passport?”
“I don’t want to speculate, but certainly every single month we get extensions. The Foreign Minister has said that he doesn’t even think the passport is relevant so obviously they are considering other things. They have other considerations on their mind. I certainly believe that that passport is critical to this case and I am sure that Mr. Elrington is aware of that…how critical it is to this case, but again, I would not be surprised if the end of the year comes and we do not see that passport.”
It gets even better than that. News Five has received a Government Press release stating that Minister of Immigration Godwin Hulse has just concluded a one week visit to Taiwan and is back in the country. We tried to contact him on Monday and again today to verify if he brought back that elusive passport, but he hasn’t answered out calls or texts.
| Arthur Saldivar; another black eye
Aug 19, 2014
Well-known attorney and political aspirant Arthur Saldivar appears to be a magnet for publicity, all of it negative, lately. Tonight, he is in trouble with the law in Placencia, and News Five has been able to confirm the Police are contemplating his arrest on a charge of assault. Reliable sources tell us that the alleged altercation happened at a Board of Director’s meeting at Robert’s Grove Resort in Seine Bight. Saldivar is allegedly the attorney for one of the Directors, and attended the meeting. The other two Directors, we are told, objected to his presence since it was a meeting of directors only. Saldivar then allegedly informed the Board that if he could not be present, the meeting would be void. According to statements taken by the Police, Saldivar then grabbed some papers from one of the Director’s hands, and placed his elbow against that Director’s neck in a threatening manner. It’s positively bizarre, like much of the news surrounding Saldivar lately. At one point this morning, Police were looking for the attorney, and then we are told he went to the Placencia Police Station to give a statement, after which he was allowed to go. Still, we are told Police are considering their options regarding arrest at this time.
| Corozal Father accused of indecent assault on his daughter
Aug 19, 2014
It never gets any easier to report on stories involving sexual assault, and it is particularly disturbing when minors are involved. Tonight there are two such incidents, both in the Corozal District. A ten-year-old student from Copper Bank, accompanied by her guardian, visited the Corozal Police Station to report that on Friday, she was assaulted by a man she should have been able to trust. The minor claims that she was at home in a hammock half asleep when she felt her father touching her inappropriately. He tried to pull her from the hammock but she fought him off and went into her room. She states that her father then pulled her into his room and tried to climb on top of her. Again, she fought him off and managed to run from the house to get help. In the second instance, an eleven year old student from San Joaquin told Police that she was at home with her stepfather on Saturday. She claims that she was locking the kitchen windows when he grabbed her from behind and started touching her breast. He then allegedly pulled her into his room and continued touching her inappropriately. She managed to escape and ran to her grandmother’s house. Police are seeking both men, and are confident that they will have them in custody before long, charged with aggravated assault of an indecent nature.