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Mar 29, 2017

Barton Middleton, Before Senate Committee, Claims He Fears for His Life

The sole witness present at today’s public hearing of the Senate Special Select Committee on Immigration was Barton Middleton. His appearance is the culmination of long weeks of interrogation of multiple witnesses involved in the disappearance of eight visa foils from the Western Border Immigration Station. Several of these visas wound up in passports for Chinese nationals seen by the head of the division George Reynolds and brought personally by former Financial Comptroller of the Belize City Council, Patrick Tillett. Many of those witnesses appearing before the Committee fingered Middleton as being an “agent” in the procuring of visas for Chinese nationals. But the complete picture of the man was only revealed when News Five aired the photograph of the Orange Walk businessman two weeks ago. He has been described as a “fixer,” someone with enough influence to arrange for visas unlawfully taken from a border station to be affixed to passports to satisfy persons wishing to come to Belize. But when Middleton finally at the National Assembly in Belmopan today, he appeared to cut a befuddled, hesitant figure in front of the Senate panel and the television cameras. The reason why – or at least part of it – was not revealed until the dying moments, when he was directly asked if he had been threatened or otherwise prevailed on. While he claimed there was no direct threat, a combination of “strange things” he has seen recently have put him on his guard – and in fear of his very life.

 

Mark Lizarraga

Mark Lizarraga, Senator, Business Community

“I need to ask you this question, and I need for you to think seriously about it before you answer it. Have you been threatened, Mr. Middleton, by anybody?”

 

Barton Middleton, Businessman

“No, Sir.”

 

Mark Lizarraga

“Nobody has threatened you, in relation to your coming before this Committee and speaking before this Committee?”

 

Barton Middleton

Barton Middleton

“No, sir.”

 

Mark Lizarraga

“Are you scared for your life, Mr. Middleton?”

 

Barton Middleton

“Yes, sir.”

 

Mark Lizarraga

“Yes?”

 

Barton Middleton

“Yes.”

 

Mark Lizarraga

“Is there something you would like to tell us?”

 

Aldo Salazar

Barton Middleton

“No, sir.”

 

Mark Lizarraga

“Is there something you would like to tell the Committee off-record?”

 

Barton Middleton

“No, sir.”

 

Mark Lizarraga

“But you are scared for your life?”

 

Barton Middleton

“Yes, sir.”

 

Aldo Salazar, Chair, Senate Special Select Committee

“Pastor Rocke?”

 

Ashley Rocke

Ashley Rocke, Churches Senator

“Why would a simple enquiry like this, to find out truth or allegations made about you, make you scared for your life?”

 

Barton Middleton

“Nothing is as it seems, sir.”

 

Ashley Rocke

“Aha. Thank you.”

 

Aldo Salazar

“You said that you were in fear of losing your life; that’s what you said earlier, right?”

 

Barton Middleton

“Yes, sir.”

 

Aldo Salazar

“The issue that causes you to be put in fear – I’m not asking you to say what it is – the issue that cause you to be put in fear of your life, has to do with your testimony before this committee or is it for some other reason which is unrelated to this Committee hearing?”

 

Barton Middleton

“It’s related to the hearing.”

 

Aldo Salazar

“So that you are put in fear, not by any direct threat against you, but by your own conclusions about what may happen, is that correct?”

 

Barton Middleton

“It’s difficult to explain. I just – I’ve seen strange cars followed me before, that I’ve never seen, since this situation with – just a sixth sense, I suppose.”

 

Aldo Salazar

“Since you learned your name was brought up in these proceedings, you started to notice strange things, vehicles following you?”

 

Barton Middleton

“Yes, sir.”

 

Aldo Salazar

“But what we are trying to ascertain is that it isn’t as a result of a direct threat?”

 

Barton Middleton

“I’m not at liberty to say at this point.”

 

Middleton also stated that he is fearful of reporting to police because he believes they cannot protect him. The Committee did meet further with Middleton for about an hour after the public session came to end around two this afternoon.

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