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Apr 21, 2016

Grijalva Sentenced for Destroying Noh Mul

Three years ago, Denny Grijalva, the U.D.P. Orange Walk standard bearer, his wife Emelda and their foreman, Javier Nunez were found to be excavating limestone from the Mayan site Noh Mul to be used in the construction of roads. They were taken to court for causing the destruction of a Mayan site, this week they were found guilty and today they were sentenced. The damage to the site is irreparable and while they were imposed a maximum fine by the Chief Magistrate, it is not even a drop in the bucket for the damages. News Five’s Duane Moody reports.

 

 

Duane Moody, Reporting

Six thousand dollars each for DeMar’s Stone Company Limited, its owners Denny and Emelda Grijalva and their employee Javier Nunez.  That was the sentence handed down this morning by Chief Magistrate Anne Marie Smith in the Belize City Magistrate’s Court, after she found the defendants guilty of the destruction of the ancient Mayan monument of Noh Mul in Orange Walk District. The fines came almost three years after the charges were brought against the U.D.P. Orange Walk Central political caretaker and his company.

 

Leroy Banner

Leroy Banner, Representing D.P.P.’s Office [File: April 19th, 2016]

“For you to remove dirt from an ancient monument you need a permit. According to the evidence no permit was given to Mr. Grijalva and his company for them to remove any earth from Noh Mul, and Noh Mul is an ancient monument. The evidence was led that Noh Mul falls under the whole Archaeological Department and there is an ancient site and no permit was given for them to remove any stone or any cover from that site.”

 

Reporter

“Why was it necessary in the case to try to shift blame as the magistrate said, from yourselves to the village council?”

 

Bryan Neal

Bryan Neal, Attorney for Defendants

“In terms of the legalities, every person before the courts has an opportunity to put forward their defense and it was within our right to put forward that defense. If the magistrate did not find favor with it, that is why we were found guilty. And we are paying the maximum fines allowed by law so that I don’t want to second guess the magistrate and get into a back and forth about what the evidence is; she has ruled.”

 

On Monday, the Grijalvas, their project manager and the company were found guilty of the Willful Damage to an Ancient Monument and the Removal of Earth from an Ancient Monument. The charges were first levied back in May of 2013 when it was discovered that Demar’s was taking material from the ancient Mayan site of Noh Mul to build roads.

 

Doctor John Morris, Director, Institute of Archeology

“There was a profusion of apologies by Mister Grijalva and his company; these seem to be genuinely concerned about the destruction and they have taken measures so that their company does not get involved in this kind of stuff again. So I am happy that the court has decided in favor of NICH, well the country of Belize. One could say we prosecuted an act of destruction against the counry of Belize and I am happy that today we see a conclusion of this unfortunate incident.”

 

Denny Grijalva, Guilty of Willful Damage to an Ancient Monument

“I believe that we should work hand in hand with NICH and the different ministries that are responsible for this and find a way to protect the Maya ruins. I don’t know maybe proper signing and fencing. My company is prepared to assist them if they need any assistance to ensure that this doesn’t occur again.”

 

Denny Grijalva

Reporter

“Sir a cynical person might say, are you sorry for the damage or are you sorry for being caught?”

 

Denny Grijalva

“Well we are sorry for what happened. I mean, you know, we are sorry for what happened.”

 

During the sentencing hearing held today, Director of the Institute of Archeology Doctor John Morris took the stand describing the damage to the Mayan site and the impact both locally and internationally. He said that the damage to the sacred monument is incalculable. While the defendants received maximum penalties each, is twenty-four thousand dollars overall for damages a slap in the face of archeologists and Belizeans whose patrimony has been destroyed?

 

John Morris

Dr. John Morris

“The law says that it is five thousand dollars for the destruction of a monument and one thousand dollars for the individual that does it. So if you total the number of fines that was levied today, I think you end up with a thirty or thirty-five thousand dollars. But as I said, that could never replace what we have lost—not only in terms of the actual cultural knowledge that we lost, but the negative publicity that Belize got in the international world. And then think about the tourism potential; the potential that this site could have been a major earning, tourism destination for the people in the northern districts. We’ve lost that ability to do that. And so yes the fines, the magistrate is limited by the law and she imposed the maximum fines and kudos to her for doing that and as she said, she found it quite incredible that people in this country could destroy their cultural heritage.”

 

But will Grijalva et al appeal the decision of the court?

 

Bryan Neal

“We are going back to my office right now to look at the decision, look at the ruling and the time they have given us to pay and we will decide whether or not we will lodge an appeal. We haven’t come to a final decision as yet. It is his right to tell me what to do, but we have to take some time to review the law and review where we are.”

 

Duane Moody for News Five.

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3 Responses for “Grijalva Sentenced for Destroying Noh Mul”

  1. Steve says:

    Morris should now sue him civilly to recover all the costs to reconstruct and damage to the country- easily few million- who is advising them?

  2. CEO says:

    Very good!

    The Guatemalans don’t respect our borders and we do not have any regards for out historic resources.

  3. Libertarian View says:

    Is Bryan Neal joking? File an appeal? How about the world as your jury? Six thousand dollars each? The guilty parties are doubled over laughing.
    Dr. John Morrris – your comments should have included “SHAME ON YOU to the guilty parties. If a country has no cultural heritage, it has no foundation.

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