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Mar 9, 2017

B.D.F. Reconvenes Inquiry on Training Abuse

Last week, we aired a video of events that transpired at a training program conducted by the Belize Defense Force of recruits.  The video went viral and became a topic of discussion in many sectors; there are some who believe that the B.D.F. soldiers conducting the training had breached multiple protocols, while others believe the program appropriately prepares and hardens the recruits for any eventuality that may come their way while on duty.  But the images show the anguish and pain of recruit Michael Rivas, who was tear-gassed and thrown in a trench.  When it first aired, B.D.F. Future Plans Officer Lieutenant Colonel Azariel Loria confirmed that an internal inquiry was being held.  Since then, not much has been said of the video or of those who were purportedly in breach of protocols while executing recruits’ training.  Today, News Five has learnt that the B.D.F. officers involved have been notified of an official investigation via a force routine order, also known as F.R.O.  The extract from the F.R.O. states that an investigation team made up of three members will assemble on Friday, March tenth to “conduct an investigation into the alleged abuse of Private Rivas that occurred at MPR for the final exercise during Recruit Intake Number Sixty Three.” So, what is the difference between a court of inquiry and an investigation in B.D.F. affairs? In a court of inquiry, evidence found cannot be used in exacting penalties or to reprimand someone at fault – that is why an investigation must be carried out and whereby if evidence shows someone broke policy, then that evidence can be used to hold someone responsible.  So, why is this investigation being carried out? We understand that it came from the very top and the Ministry of Defence requested that an investigation be done following the broadcast of the video on local and regional news.  We’ll keep following the story.

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