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Nov 7, 2016

Raymond Rivers in Court; He Denies Threatening Death of Philip Willoughby

We have been reporting on firebrand activist Raymond Rivers’ various run-ins in recent weeks. He has been consistently crying out against the Government through the realm of Facebook. His language has been sharp, unsparing and occasionally threatening, prompting Police to call him in almost two weeks ago for intervention. But one of his alleged targets, Belize City Councillor Phillip Willoughby, has accused him of using threatening words in an incident that happened nearly two months ago. Rivers was picked up over the weekend and he had his day in court today. Correspondent Aaron Humes was there.

 

Aaron Humes, Reporting

Raymond Rivers was out on Treasury Lane in front of the Magistrate’s Court bright and early on this Monday morning, flanked by president of Citizens Organized for Liberty through Action Geovannie Brackett and various family and supporters, after being detained by police over the weekend. He was there to respond to charges that he verbally threatened Belize City Councilor Philip Willoughby on Independence Eve, September twentieth, at the official ceremony at Memorial Park. But just before eleven, Rivers and attorney Kareem Musa were informed that the matter would be put off to Wednesday, November ninth.

 

Kareem Musa

Kareem Musa, Attorney for Raymond Rivers

“Mister Rivers was detained over the weekend, and while he was on lockdown at the Queen Street Police Station yesterday, the Police gave him a charge sheet for using threatening words against Mister Philip Willoughby. When we went before the court just now, we were informed by the Police, members of the Police Department that the charge was not properly framed; imagine that! It has taken them two months to prepare a charge sheet for this man, and even now they can’t get it right; they are asking him to come back on Wednesday. They’re clearly trying to target Mister Rivers.”

 

Reporter

“So the allegation was made, or a police report was filed on Mister Willoughby on the very same day, do you know?”

 

Kareem Musa

“I have no idea, I have no idea. None at all.”

 

Reporter

“Because I don’t recall us getting any police report on that.”

 

Kareem Musa

“No. And if you would recall, Mister Rivers was detained or brought into a meeting with Mister Chester Williams, about a week and a half ago was it? Nothing was told to him then about any charges, so what is this about today? When I spoke with the police officer in charge yesterday, he told me nothing about this charge you know; he told me he was detained for disorderly conduct, nothing in relation to Philip Willoughby.”

 

Reporter

“Disorderly conduct, what day?”

 

Kareem Musa

“He was saying sometime over the weekend; that’s why he was detained. But was he charged with that offense either? No! He was not charged with any offense.”

 

Musa was fully confident that his client was being targeted by the authorities solely for his speaking out and would be vindicated. He told us that while there is a statute of limitations on summary offenses like this one, the cops could have moved much faster, given Rivers’ notoriety. Willoughby had spoken to News Five on Thursday, November second, giving his version of events.

 

Phillip Willoughby

Phillip Willoughby, City Councilor [File: November 2nd, 2016]

“What did transpire though, on the twentieth of September at the flag raising ceremony, Mr. Rivers being several yards away made some comments to myself, to my person in the presence of my friends, saying, “Yo wah dead” and “dis da di kiss of death,” that kind of thing, and poor people this and whatever.  But I wondered why he would want to make such comments to myself.  What I did do though, I had my attorney write him a letter which I shared with you.  I also made a police report on the matter and I’ll leave that there.” 

 

Rivers, not surprisingly, remembers the incident much differently, and is not about to back down.

 

Raymond Rivers

Raymond Rivers

“Me and my two son went to watch the fireworks [on] September the twentieth and when Mister Barrow came I halla, “Sign the Anti-Corruption Convention!” Right? And Mister Barrow wave at me [and] wave at the crowd and went in. Now Mister Willoughby did the same thing and I halla the same thing at him. And he pointed at me and said, “Watch weh wah ketch you!” You know? But I only halla “Sign the Anti-Corruption Convention!”; that dah mi di only ting I halla dah night.”

 

Reporter

“So you neva said to him, “Bwai, you wah dead!”

 

Raymond Rivers

“No, no.”

 

The process of untangling this controversy continues on Wednesday. Aaron Humes reporting for News Five.

 

According to Rivers the exchange was captured on camera and that may be a factor in the case. Rivers has accused Willoughby in turn of sending alleged gang members at him as part of a “hit” or contract for his death.

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