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Jun 9, 2015

Mayhem on La Isla Carinosa, Residents Riot Following Death of Teenager

Hilberto Sotz

All hell broke loose on Caye Caulker on Monday night after word spread across the island that a young man had died while in police custody. Protesters took the streets and the Gang Suppression Unit was later called into the island to bring control. Eighteen-year-old Hilberto Sotz was detained before noon on Monday and hours later he was pronounced dead. He is the third person to die while in custody at the Caye Caulker station. But how did he? There are still more troubling questions than answers and as investigations take place, fingers are pointing at one particular cop.  News Five’s Isani Cayetano has the following report.

 

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

Pandemonium on La Isla Carinosa, following the mysterious death of a teenager in police custody.  The convergence of officers on the tiny island, from various branches of law enforcement, was prompted by an angry mob that gathered outside of this polyclinic on Monday evening.   That was shortly after it became apparent that eighteen-year-old Hilberto Sotz died while in detention at the Caye Caulker Police Station.  Word of his demise would trigger widespread unrest across the island, resulting in an all-out confrontation between residents and officers.  Carmelina Sotz, the grieving mother, is still in a state of shock.

 

Carmelina Sotz, Mother of Deceased Teen

“I neva know that he mi deh lockdown until when he done dead already then I get to know that he was detained.”

 

Carmelina Sotz

Hilberto Sotz had been taken into custody shortly before midday, after being wanted for questioning into a series of burglaries in the village.

 

Carmelina Sotz

“When di burglary happened da Sunday night.  My son neva mi deh pan di island.  He mih deh da Belmopan, yeah, because he go dah school da Belmopan Baptist High School.  He deh da second form and he neva mi deh pan di island when da thing happen.”

 

According to a police report issued earlier today, he was held at the station until five o’clock when an interview got underway.  Sometime thereafter he reportedly complained of chest pains and difficulty breathing.  Officers on duty would later show up at the family residence in Bahia Puesto del Sol in search of his parents.

 

Carmelina Sotz

“The police dehn gaan gaan look fi me five minutes after six when dehn tell me that dehn wahn talk to me.  So I gaan downstairs with them but I mi think that dehn di look fu my son.  When I hyah dehn seh, “Ah waan yo be strong, so Mr. Nunez mi tell me.”  Dehn I ask why.  Ih seh we have wahn sad news fi give you miss, so ih tell me.  Dehn I ask why, what?  Ih seh, dah wahn sad news, I sorry fi cohn give yo it but da your son passed away.”

 

Naturally, Sotz inquired into the circumstances surrounding her son’s sudden death.

 

Carmelina Sotz

“Dehn tell me dat da wahn breathing problem.  Dehn I know as a mother, I da ih ma, I neva, neva bring my son da hospital no time from since he was a baby.  Neva yet.  So why da breathing problem, I noh know.”

 

Anita Baker

The absence of a proper medical explanation has led many to believe that Hilberto perished as a result of police brutality.  According to Anita Baker, it would not be the first incident of police brutality to be reported here.

 

Anita Baker, Caye Caulker Resident

“Dehn harass di lee bwai dehn every, every time, especially di one weh dehn seh kill di lee bwai, he da di main one.  We have problem with he pan dis island ya so da time mek he, I feel go weh ih do.  I noh feel good weh ih kill di lee bwai but ah feel good that, you know what, we noh wahn he ya noh moh because dat da all he do, harass and harass and harass di youths dehn deh.”

 

The officer in question will remain anonymous pending the outcome of a criminal and internal police investigation.  For now, Sotz is staying away from making any allegations against that officer.

 

Carmelina Sotz

“If I seh di police kill ahn maybe I di judge wrong, I noh know.  Ah wahn wait til I hayah what di docta dehn wahn seh then.  I noh know weh kill ahn.”

 

By and large, residents of Caye Caulker are in an uproar, as this is the third person on record to have suffered a similar fate at the hands of local police.  Deon Green, a businessman on the island, describes the mayhem that reportedly ensued when the Gang Suppression Unit was called in.

 

Deon Green

Deon Green, Resident

“My biggest issue is the response of the Belize Police Department sending in the GSU in here last night.  That unit did not come in here to calm anybody.  That unit came in here and made the situation worse.  I’ve seen them push people down last night.  I’ve seen them point guns in ladies’ faces, they even pointed a gun in my wife’s face last night and they fired off maybe over three hundred rounds of ammunition was spent last night.  That’s not no way of calming down an issue when a community is just looking for answers.”

 

Anita Baker

“So we get enough, so weh happen yesterday, you know, we feel bad about it.  The whole community really feel bad about it that’s why we come out and we gaan off.  We gaan off really good because then dis da noh di first time dehn kill, di police kill people eena da station deh.  Dis da di third time now.”

 

As we mentioned, separate investigations are underway to determine the cause , as well as the conditions which resulted in Sotz’s death.  While there are no signs of bruises to the body, his mother admits to observing something strange on his neck.

 

Carmelina Sotz

“Bruises pan di body, no.  But yeah, when di lady reach and tek out pictures, dehn lift up his head right and when dehn put ih neck like dis dahn wahn mark deh right underneath right ya.  Wahn mark. Dehn sehe, because da wahn lotta dehn detained and di rest ah di persons weh detained dehn she dat da di policeman [bleep] put wahn plastic bag around his head and pressuring him fi seh weh di stolen items deh.”

 

Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

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2 Responses for “Mayhem on La Isla Carinosa, Residents Riot Following Death of Teenager”

  1. me says:

    Just like how the brutalized the guy in Orange Walk. That one was lucky his wife was around videotaping their brutality. This riot da signs of coming attractions. People wah get buff and tongs each happen. Hope it doesn’t but it looks like it’s leading to that.

  2. Corrupted Belize says:

    Belize whole system corrupt. You know how many cold cases are sitting there unsolved, because the police men and women don’t know how to use their brains. They brutally abuse the system and hide behind their authority and badges….
    if we had a real police system, Smart knowledgeknowledgeable officers, who knew and loved their jobs, they wouldn’t be taking advantage of the people…
    BUT PEOPLE OF BELIZE NEED TO LEARN AND STUDY THEIR RIGHTS, instead of trying to become and follow the U.S. the Government, corruption Nweds to stop also … until then, all the craziness will continue to go on.. The Government noh the worry about we di people, then the try get rich, and poor people just di continue to suffer..”LITERALLY”

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