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Jun 9, 2015

Criminal and Internal Investigation of Arresting Officer Underway in Caye Caulker

Noel Leal

While dozens of officers have descended on the otherwise quiet village of Caye Caulker, among their ranks is Assistant Commissioner of Police Noel Leal.  He is heading an internal investigation into the circumstances surrounding the death of Hilberto Sotz.  He is also tasked with carefully examining the role the arresting officers may have played in the unfortunate incident.  For his part, ACP Leal told News Five earlier today that the inquiry will be dealt with promptly and results of that probe will be made public in due time.  The focus, says Leal, is whether there was a breach in protocol while Sotz was in detention.

 

ACP Noel Leal, Commander, Professional Standards Branch

“The mandate or the responsibility of the Professional Standards Branch is to investigate any matter of complaint against the police, particularly so if it is one of a serious nature, as in this case.  So, we are out here, we are doing our investigation and we are hoping to conclude probably by the ending of the day.”

 

Isani Cayetano

“Now there has been a bold allegation made against a fellow officer that he may have had a hand in what transpired involving the death of Hilberto Sotz yesterday.  What have you guys learned so far, in terms of either what the police officers here stationed at the precinct are telling you or what you’ve gathered by way of your own investigation?”

 

ACP Noel Leal

“Well our investigation, as well as any other police investigation entails interviewing your witnesses, recording of statements, the visiting of scenes, photographs and this afternoon the post mortem will be conducted.  But so far we have received quite a bit of information.  We have gathered quite a bit of statements and we are continuing, hopefully we’ll be concluding by this evening and then the post mortem in Belize City which is also being dealt with by our other officers in Belize City will give us another part of the, will complete then, another part of the investigation.”

 

Isani Cayetano

“This is now a high profile case seeing as though it’s the third reported incident where someone in detention has died in police custody.  How is this being treated differently from other alleged instances?  You have Alex Goff and then you had another young man Alarcon, prior to him who died here at Caye Caulker.  How is this going to be treated differently to satisfy the residents who want some form of justice out of this issue?”

 

ACP Noel Leal

“Okay, well I wouldn’t know about the two incidents prior to this except that from my taking over the Professional Standards Branch I have come across a file where a PC Parham in respect of Alex Goff, when Alex Goff was killed out here in police custody and PC Parham, as we speak, is currently serving time in prison for that.  So he is serving time for that.”

 

Isani Cayetano

“Two aspects of this particular investigation: criminal and internal.  Talk to us about what you’re looking for and what are some of the elements that will come together to put forward a comprehensive report on what transpired?”

 

ACP Noel Leal

“Okay.  Well in regards to the internal aspect of the investigation we are looking for all evidence and information which will help us to determine whether there is any breach in our administrative or disciplinary policy, whether police reacted properly or unjustifiably or what they did wrong or just what were the circumstances.  From there we’ll be able to determine whether, if they fail, we’ll be able to determine what disciplinary charges we place on them.”

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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