Belize News Online Channel 5
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| One found dead and four still missing at sea
Dec 10, 2013
Back in November 2007 seven friends went fishing, days later the body of one was found: Magistrate Richard Swift. The six others mysteriously disappeared and were never found. Tonight there is a similar story to report of murder on the high seas. It involves a group of five fishermen who set out to sea last Thursday on board a vessel Natasha; they were due back on Saturday. But tonight the news is that at least one has been found murdered, four others are missing and the worst is feared by their families. On Monday, the body of Thomas Young was found floating in the sea. It had chop wounds all over and a gunshot wound to the chest. It is horrible tragedy for his children who last year lost their mother. News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports.
Isani Cayetano, Reporting
The grief-stricken families of five Belizean fishermen are tonight desperately trying to unravel the mystery of their disappearance at sea over the weekend. While the badly decomposed body of forty-nine-year-old Thomas Young was recovered by coastguard personnel on Monday evening, his colleagues remain at large. It is unclear whether or not they may have met a similar fate. Young’s corpse was found floating in the vicinity of Southern Long Water Caye and Long Caye with what appeared to be numerous physical injuries.
Michelle Aldana, Caretaker of Young’s Family
“They found him floating and his body is decomposed and I couldn’t get any scene of him. Otherwise from that I don’t know. I would like to know the reason why they killed him and why they took him away from the family.”
Young, a resident of Lucky Strike Village, was savagely attacked and chopped repeatedly to various parts of the body, before being shot in the chest at close range.
Lt. Greg Soberanis, Operations Officer, BNCG
“Yesterday afternoon at approximately 2:30 we received a call from the Belize Port Authority that they had a patrol in the area of Colson Caye and they were requesting coastguard assistance at that location. We immediately deployed our Quick Response Team from the headquarters and when they arrived at that location they found out of from the port authority patrol that a body had been discovered or found floating approximately one mile east of Colson Caye.”
It is reported that Young, along with twenty-six-year-old Derwin Gentle, twenty-four-year-old Elgin Graham, thirty-four-year-old Sergio Flores and twenty-six-year-old Kenrick Devin Chi embarked on a routine fishing trip last Thursday from a dock behind the Northern Fishermen’s Cooperative. They were scheduled to come back to Belize City by Saturday evening. When the group failed to return by Sunday relatives grew concerned about their location.
Voice of: Stephanie Garnett, Common Law Wife of Elgin Graham
“Well we get concern and thing and so di wife ah di boss cohn and ask me if my boyfriend come een and I tell ahn no, he noh come een yet. So she seh okay, ih seh because she di call dehn phone and nobody no di ansa no phone. So I seh, “hmm dat no sound right.” So she seh dat how dehn gaan down south so I sehe but ey normally down south dehn only spend one night because dehn di go so long and da only one night down south dehn spend. But according to dehn dat dehn mi wah spend two nights. So dehn call di Saturday morning and sehe dat how dehn mi wah come een like minutes to five. And everybody get concerned because Saturday dehn noh come een, Sunday dehn noh come een. So Monday we decided fi go mek di report.”
That report, as previously mentioned, was succeeded by the discovery of Young’s body. This afternoon the family of Derwin Gentle visited the Queen Street Police Station in an effort to assist the Criminal Investigation Branch with his particulars.
Celina Gentle, Mother of Darwin Gentle
“All I know is that he left home about nine o’clock on Thursday morning and was going to sea. He went to pick up his workmen at the co-op and they left from there and from then we didn’t get anymore news from them.”
“So there was no contact with you guys by phone to say they were either leaving from the area they were fishing or they were safe and sound while they were there on that trip?”
“His common-law wife said he called her about eleven o’clock Friday night and told her that he was coming up Saturday and we waited on Saturday and they never showed so we started calling and never get no response from them.”
And, despite ongoing efforts to raise them by phone, the families still have not been able to make contact with the missing fishermen. Gentle’s mother strongly believes that the men may have encountered a gang of pirates on the open sea.
“If dehn do ahn anything out deh I woulda wahn dehn mek I find ahn and mek my heart deh at ease, yo undastand cause I noh wahn di wonda and di hope, yoh noh.”
Meanwhile, the children of Thomas Young have become orphaned as this is the second parent they have lost within a year.
“It is so hard because the kids they just lost their mother on the twenty-sixth of November makes a year that they lost their mother and they didn’t have a Christmas last year and they won’t have a Christmas this year knowing that they have lost their father. The men, along with the vessel they were traveling in, Natasha, remains at large despite a massive search and rescue or recovery effort by law enforcement agencies.”
Isani Cayetano for News Five.
In the 2007 case, Richard Swift’s body was found on Glover’s Reef on November tenth.
| Area Reps to receive monies for Christmas Cheer program
Dec 10, 2013
UDP Area representatives will allegedly receive ninety thousand dollars this Christmas to hand out to their constituents. That revelation came from PUP Leader Francis Fonseca, who says he got that information from documents he received from the Ministry of Finance, though not through official channels. According to Fonseca, UDP reps will receive ninety thousand, while PUP area representatives will receive twenty-five thousand. Fonseca says he isn’t condemning the so-called Christmas cheer program, per se, but he believes that all constituents should receive the same amount of goodwill. And he bristled at the revelation that UDP caretakers will also receive twenty-five thousand dollars to hand out.
Francis Fonseca, PUP Leader
“Under the Christmas Cheer program as it is proposed, the U.D.P. area representatives are getting the seventeen of them are getting ninety thousand dollars allocated to them for a total of 1.53 million dollars. The fourteen P.U.P. area representatives are being allocated 25 thousand dollars for a total of 350 thousand dollars. On top of that the 14 U.D.P. political officers as they call them or caretaker and this is what have been produced by the ministry of finance and sent to the ministry of human development will get 25 thousand dollars as allocated to them. I don’t believe that caretakers of a po9liticval parties should participate in that program. And I again say that there should not be any inequity, why is it that the people in Mesopotamia or the people in Collett should get ninety thousand dollars worth of chair and the people in Freetown we get less chair. We don’t object to the philosophy behind the program because people are in dire straits in this country. There is grave inequity; it is being manipulated for political purposes.”
Fonseca says that the money will be disbursed through the Ministry of Human Development. No cash will allegedly be handed out, only vouchers to specific establishments.
| Spain to reject imports of fishery from Belize starting December 21st
Dec 10, 2013
Months ago the government took control of the International Merchant Marine Registry (IMMARBE) because it claimed that the European Union would have imposed sanctions on fleets carrying the Belize flag of convenience. It placed the registry directly in the Ministry of Finance and introduced a Bill on High Seas Fishing. But last month, the European Commission proceeded to blacklist Belize for not doing enough to meet obligations under international law in the fight against illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing. Tonight, the news is that Spain is the first country to announce that beginning December twenty-first it will reject imports of fishery products from Belize, Cambodia and Guinea Conakry in compliance with the legal measures imposed by the EC. In line with the EC decision, authorities of the Member States are obliged to refuse the import of fishery products into the EU as it is evidenced that the catch certificate has been validated by the authorities of a country with a flag that has been identified as uncooperative. It means that fishery products which carry a catch certificate after December twenty first will be rejected while those with a certificate before December twenty-second will be subjected to all routine checks. In other developments, there is an advisory circulating in the region that in respect of a blacklisting of Belize by the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force member states of the twenty-nine jurisdictions are called upon to consider implementing counter measures to protect their financial systems from the ongoing money laundering and terrorist financing risk emanating from Belize. But Belize and Guyana were cited by the CTAFT for deficiencies in meeting the international standards of fighting money laundering and terrorism.
| 2 Police men and 1 civilian busted with contraband
Dec 10, 2013
On Sunday at around four-thirty pm, two vehicles were intercepted by a Customs patrol on the Arenal Road. Reliable reports suggest that one of the vehicles, driven by a Police Constable and containing another Police Officer and a civilian, sped away and was chased down by Customs personnel. When that vehicle was searched seven cases of beer and other contraband items were found inside. The other vehicle was allegedly occupied by another Police Officer and a civilian, and contained eleven cases of beer and other contraband items. The civilians claimed responsibility for the contraband, which was confiscated. A fine was paid and all were free to go, including the three Police officers. News Five managed to obtain this picture which shows Customs personnel speaking to one of the persons busted, allegedly a Police Officer. We were reliably informed that one officer is assigned to the Benque Viejo Police Formation and two to the San Ignacio Police Formation. Today, when we called the San Ignacio formation, we were told that none of the officers involved was assigned there. When we called the Benque Police formation, we were told that the officers involved were assigned to San Ignacio, and not to Benque. With those official lanes closed, we are hoping that more information will be forthcoming when Police Commissioner Allen Whylie reenters the country. News Five understands that the Customs Department was instructed to provide a written report on the incident, and to copy it to the ComPol.
| Infrastrucural projects awarded to Orange Walk, Punta Gorda and Dangriga, but projects to be controlled by the UDP
Dec 10, 2013
The Opposition People’s United Party controls three municipalities – Orange Walk, Dangriga and Punta Gorda. All three municipalities will be benefitting from some infrastructural works as part of a recent program announced by Prime Minister Dean Barrow. But while any improvement should theoretically be a good thing, none of the three representatives are jumping for joy. For one thing, they claim that the money allocated doesn’t amount to a drop in the bucket. While that’s bad enough, two of the three PUP Mayors have been informed that the infrastructure works will be coordinated by UDP caretakers in their areas. And there’s even more bad news. The coming works will provide employment to residents, but those workers will be chosen by the UDP man in charge of the project. All three Mayors are fighting mad.
Gilbert Swaso, Mayor, Dangriga Town
“He also stated that he will select an executive outside of the town council, his man as he said to over the street works and to employ his people. Indicating in my humble view, the U.D.P. members and associates to be the work force. This executive he said will be his man, Papa Mena, The work force as I indicated earlier as I said will be his people because it is his money.”
Anthony Fuentes, Mayor, Punta Gorda Town
“The Prime Minister also mentioned that the town council will only get ten percent to employ ten person of the total and his person form the other party namely, Mr. Martinez to get the rest of the employees, That means that the Punta Gorda Town Council like the Dangriga Town Council has been disrespected as the duly elcted body in PG because if they get 50 individual to work, the town council will only get 5 persons and the unelected person will get to name 45 employees.”
Kevin Bernard, Mayor, Orange Walk Town
“Millions of dollars will be disbursed country wide for immediate remedial work and for infrastructural projects. But while we are grateful for any infrastructural work which will bring any measure of relief to resident anywhere. We are concerned about the allocation of monies and the prioritization of damages and I can say that we are very concerned. For example we look at monies to be disbursed for immediate remedial work; 2.269 million and can’t help but notice that the 3 municipalities administered by the opposition are each receiving much less than a quarter of the allocation to the other ministers, this is total nonsense.”
| Orange Walk mayor haven’t been officially informed of works to be done in his municiplaity
Dec 10, 2013
At a press briefing this afternoon, Mayor of Orange Walk Town Kevin Bernard said he and the Council haven’t even been officially informed of any works in that municipality. All three Mayors claim serious disrespect of their authority and responsibility, and joined by PUP Leader Francis Fonseca, are denouncing the actions by the government.
Francis Fonseca, PUP Leader
“In the case of Dangriga and P.G., Dangriga five hundred thousand dollars is being allocated for works, those monies are being spent through the government. The contract have been given to Cisco construction and in terms of employment, then percent of the work force will be employed through the town council and the remaining ninety percent will be employed by the U.D.P. caretaker, Mr. Frank “Papa’ Mena. In the case of Punta Gorda it is three hundred and fifty thousand dollars allocated to that municipality for the works and ten percent of the employment will come through the town council, ninety percent of the employment will come through Mr. Eden Martinez who was voted out of office in Toledo East in the last election.”
Kevin Bernard, Mayor, Orange Walk Town
“The Orange Walk Town Council has not received any call or whatsoever form the Prime Minister. All we have is information being provided to us by the local ministry representative in Orange Walk but that is not official information, they are just saying that certain works will be done on the road. Other than the Prime Minster calling us, no, we have not received any official word from his office nor from the Ministry of Finance.”
“These are the duly elected Mayors of those municipalities. If the government is serious about helping these municipalities then the Prime Minister should say I have funds available for Dangriga, I have these funds available for Punta Gorda, I have these funds available for Orange Walk and pass those as the normal process requires. Pass those through local government or through the Ministry of Finance directly and have them as they are elected to do determine what works need to be done. Why is there a need for this layer of U.D.P. to be put on top of these elected leaders to determine. They have to agree on what works should be done, they have to agree on who will get the contract, they have to agree on who will actually be employed; why is that necessary?”
While Bernard states that many streets in Orange Walk Town are in urgent need of repair, only the main street will allegedly be fixed. As we stated, all three complain that the monies allocated are woefully inadequate.