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Feb 27, 2018

Going Inside the ‘BSAG Eight’ Case

There are more details tonight on the deadly beating of Ariel Audinette Salazar at his house in Orange Walk.  Eight lawmen are spending their second night behind bars, charged with his murder and the attempted murder of Oscar Payes. They are not cooperating with the investigation, so there are lingering questions about what led the B.D.F. soldiers and cop to Audinette’s house and act in such a brutal way. According to the police, a woman made a report about her missing cell phone and took the group of men to the corner of Staine’s Alley and San Antonio Road where Audinette was savagely beaten, while she stayed in their vehicle. The soldiers assigned to the BSAG unit of the B.D.F. were wearing masks when they administered the beating. So how was their identification carried out? News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports.


Ariel Audinette Salazar

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

A team of eight law enforcement officers attached to the Belize Special Assignments Group, arraigned on Monday on charges of murder and attempted murder, is on remand at the Belize Central Prison until April eighteenth.  They will remain on pretrial detention while waiting for a scheduled appearance before the magistrate’s court here in Belize City.  It is expected that the matter will be adjourned to a later date, however, a criminal investigation into the home invasion-style incident continues.  During the vicious attack, Ariel Audinette and Oscar Payes were beaten to a bloody pulp and left for dead.  Audinette would eventually succumb to his injuries.


Joseph Myvett

ACP Joseph Myvett, Head, National Crimes Investigation Branch

“Police have since arrested and charged eight persons, namely: Lennart Cajun, twenty-nine-years-old, police constable; Mateo Bolon, twenty-eight-years-old, B.D.F. soldier; Patrick Villagran, thirty-one-years-old; Patrick Diego, twenty-six-years-old; Elvis Cobb, thirty-three-years-old; Edmar Petillo, twenty-six-years-old; Bladimir Escarraga, twenty-one-years-old and Francis Sho, twenty-three-years-old.  Amongst them is one sergeant, two corporals and four privates.  Police investigation into this matter continues.”


Additionally, what we have been able to gather is that the complainant, a woman who reported a missing cell phone, simply lodged her grievance with the officers.  They took matters into their own hands, well out of the range of legal authority.


Chester Williams

ACP Chester Williams, Commander, Professional Standards Branch

“The police officer concerned is not assigned to Orange Walk police formation.  He’s assigned to the Special Patrol Unit and detached to BSAG.  As it relates to the investigation, I must say as well, thanks to the people of Orange Walk for the cooperation that they gave the police in conducting that investigation.”


Public assistance aside, the strength of the charges preferred on the errant eight is being called to question.  The indictments are indeed consistent with capital offences that were committed and the alleged perpetrators have all been charged joint enterprise.  What about the woman who took the officers to the apartment at Staine’s Alley?


ACP Chester Williams

“There is no need to charge the female.  If you as a female or any ordinary civilian see persons whom you believe are lawmen and you go and make a complaint to them and it is up to them to decide whether or not they will act and if they know it is outside the scope of their duty, to refer you to the proper authority.  In this case, they acted.  She was not the one who sent them there, obviously, and they went and did what they did and so there is no culpability we can see at this time where the female is concerned.  The only thing she is being used as is a witness with respect to the fact that she know who she went to and make the complaint and she was also in the vehicle when they went to the house.  There is no evidence to suggest that she got out of the vehicle and went inside the house.  She stayed in the vehicle, based on the investigation.  So there is nothing to say that she committed any crime in the process.”


The BSAG team acted with a common purpose, each man reportedly had a role in administering the deadly beating on their victims.


ACP Chester Williams

“It does not benefit either the police of the Belize Defense Force to cover the criminal actions of our members.  When our members commit these sort of crimes, the right thing for us to do to gain public trust and confidence is to do the right thing and the right thing is to investigate and follow the evidence where it takes us and do what we are suppose to do which is to take the matter before a court of law.”


And when that case is finally heard, the primary obstacle to overcome, as any defense counsel would readily point out, is proof of identity and the ability to place each of those officers inside that apartment, considering the fact that they were all masked. Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

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