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Nov 28, 2017

Supreme Court turns down appeal in evidence tampering case

Orlando Vera

For more than six months, the former Ballistic Examiner, Orlando Vera has been behind bars following a conviction for perverting the course of justice in the Michael Moderi gun related case. Vera was sentenced to two years imprisonment by the then Chief Magistrate, Anne Marie Smith. Today, after more than a month waiting to hear the outcome of his appeal, Judge Herbert Lord laid down his ruling in as many as forty-three pages. The Justice upheld the decision of the former Chief Magistrate finding Vera guilty. It means Vera returns to prison to serve out his remaining term. On August second, 2016, Vera was charged with the offence of abetment to pervert the course of justice between June first, 2015 and July thirty-first, 2015, in Belmopan when offered to tamper with evidence against Moderi for firearm and ammunition charges. Vera was tried in the Belmopan Magistrate Court between March seventh, 2017 and June second, 2017 before the Chief Magistrate. The case was later brought to Belize City and on June second, 2017, Smith found Vera guilty. Immediately his attorney Anthony Sylvester filed a notice of appeal and on October tenth 2017, he presented six grounds of appeal which were granted including that the decision was erroneous and the sentencing excessive and harsh. Justice Lord agreed with the Chief Magistrate in accepting the evidence as presented by the witnesses for the crown and noted that the evidence was never challenged by the defence in cross-examination. Justice Lord said that given the gravity of harm to the justice system, the term of imprisonment handed down was adequate and was not harsh. Sylvester indicated he will be appealing the conviction and the sentence.


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