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Jul 28, 2015

Santa Cruz 13 Arraigned on Additional Charges

The Santa Cruz Thirteen reappeared in the Punta Gorda Magistrate Court this morning on their scheduled date. To their surprise, additional charges were placed upon them, including on MLA spokesperson Cristina Coc, for assaulting Rupert Myles who is at the centre of this controversial case involving the Maya communities in southern Belize. Myles has denuded the sacred site Uxbenka, and continues to expand on it. While it is expected that he will charged for damaging the site, that is yet to happen. Notwithstanding, one of the women detained in the predawn operation in June, claims she was ignored when she went to file a complaint. News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports. 

 

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

The Santa Cruz Thirteen, arraigned on June twenty-fourth for the unlawful imprisonment of Rupert Myles, were back in court today where additional charges were tacked on to their criminal records.

 

Cristina Coc

Cristina Coc, Arraigned for Unlawful Imprisonment

“Today, we saw a showing of women particularly, the emphasis was several of the women came wearing a sling on their arm symbolic of the woman who was denied justice.  The woman who was hurt during the raid in the morning when they arrested the Santa Cruz Thirteen men.”

 

That group appeared at the lower court in Punta Gorda Town this morning, before Magistrate Emerson Banner.  Their indictment stems from an incident two days prior to their arrest during which Myles was handcuffed and roped by residents on the instruction of the alcalde.  The directive succeeded an episode at the Santa Cruz community center where Myles allegedly confronted the leadership of the village during a public gathering.  Today, the men involved were further accused of assaulting Myles during his apprehension.

 

Monica Coc-Magnuson

Monica Coc-Magnuson, Attorney for Santa Cruz Thirteen

“When we got to court this morning we were informed that additional charges would be levied and that indeed happened.  There was an additional charge of common assault, in addition to the unlawful imprisonment.  Now this common assault charge was only levied against eleven of the Santa Cruz Thirteen.”

 

While the men were also indicted for physically attacking Myles, one of the women who was said to have been injured during the predawn police roundup a few days later, was reportedly disregarded by Punta Gorda police when she attempted to file charges against fellow officers for manhandling her.

 

Cristina Coc

“One of the ladies from our villages was hurt by the police officers and when she came to file charges she was denied the opportunity to bring charges against the police officers who caused harm upon her.  And so the women this morning came out to make a statement to say that they stand behind the woman who was denied justice because, you know, in our hearts we believe that justice should be for all peoples, no matter what race, no matter what your color, no matter what your gender, no matter what your ethnicity.”

 

It is against this backdrop that Program Coordinator Pablo Mis, of the Maya Leaders Alliance, mounts a position.  The incident, in his opinion, was completely avoidable had government submitted to the ruling of the Supreme Court in 2007 in favor of Maya communal land rights.

 

Pablo Mis

Pablo Mis, Program Coordinator, Maya Leaders Alliance

“It’s important that we frame this Santa Cruz incident within the larger struggle of the Maya people and of poor people, the marginalized people of Belize. This brought out the various gaps that exists in the protection of poor people, particularly the Maya people.  This incident did not have to happen had the Government of Belize complied with the 2007 Supreme Court orders.  There’s no dispute to the fact that Santa Cruz owns all that land, including Uxbenka.  We see then, this as an opportunity for the government and for all of us to draw lessons from and again impress upon the authorities for the need to sit with the Maya people and now begin to look at the Caribbean Court of Justice order.  It’s been many months and we haven’t heard a single word formally from the government, even after repeated requests from the Maya leaders to begin the process of dialogue.”

 

Ahead of that discussion is the issue of Myles’ eviction from the mound he is presently occupying at the entrance of Uxbenka.  His perch atop the sacred relic has long since been a source of contention among villagers.  Those that attempted to settle the land before him were successfully removed from the area.  Despite all attempts however, Myles remains committed to developing the plot.

 

Pablo Mis

“I was just there this Sunday and the villagers again were very concerned because the gentleman continues to pay his father-in-law to denude the hill.  He is, as we speak, continuing to expand, clearing the mound and planting coconuts and other crops on the mound.  So that’s as much as it is.  There is a level of urgency on the part of the village, particularly on the association that is tasked, the community association that is tasked to manage that site.”

 

Where it concerns the additional charges brought against the Santa Cruz Thirteen, Magnuson told News Five that a reason is yet to be provided.

 

Rupert Myles

Monica Coc-Magnuson

“I don’t know what their reasoning or what their thinking was in terms of bringing those additional charges because we have not been served with disclosure yet so I can’t speak to that until I see the evidence that they have against my clients.”

 

Isani Cayetano

“That being said, there is also no reason at this point as to why there is tardiness in the levying of these additional charges.  Correct?”

 

Monica Coc-Magnusson

“Yes, that’s correct.  I don’t know.  I don’t know what the state is thinking, I can’t speak to their frame of mind other than what is before us today.  You know, the reality is today we have an additional charge.”

 

Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

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1 Response for “Santa Cruz 13 Arraigned on Additional Charges”

  1. Rod says:

    My Maryam people march March to this pm house drag him out of bed and lock him up for corruption thief murder and you should all sue this pm and gov one by one show this pm and gov that you are not afraid to die,

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