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Apr 18, 2018

Accused Killer of Panamanian Diplomat in 2014 Awaits Fate

Wilser Echevarria

Now twenty-three years of age, he was only a teenager when he was accused of killing a Panamanian diplomat in what he called self-defense. The murder trial of Wilser Echevarria has now concluded in the Belmopan Supreme Court. From the start, and again speaking from the dock in his defense at trial, Echevarria maintained that he met sixty-four-year-old Ambassador Jose Rodrigo de la Rosa Stanford at the Belmopan bus terminal in November of 2013. The ambassador invited him for a drink, but according to Echevarria he drove his SUV to a remote area and made sexual advances on the younger man. Echevarria says he resisted, and told police and the court that while Stanford allegedly pinned him down in a choke in the vehicle, he saw a blade and grabbed it and cut the older man in the throat. He then fled and was picked up by police a day later with both the vehicle and Stanford’s cell phone in his possession in the Salvapan area. The case is being prosecuted by special prosecutor Leeroy Banner, while Echevarria is being defended by Senior Counsel Simeon Sampson and Arthur Saldivar. After the case was closed, Saldivar told our media colleagues that it is important that justice be served in this case.

 

Arthur Saldivar

Arthur Saldivar, Attorney for Wilser Echevarria

“As you know the prosecution has closed its case; the defense has also closed its case so tomorrow we have submissions being made on behalf of the accused. That being what it may, what is most important here is that we are in process of seeking justice: either side appearing, the state and the accused, require justice. This is one of the cases that I believe we can come to that In a very easy way, and in a way that is clear and that it will be easy seen that the process works. I believe we have professional people in our judiciary I have all faith in the judge in this case. Again, let me say this, since you’ve asked that question: predation of any sort is despicable – predation of a man having predatory behavior against a woman, forcing without consent to have relations; predation of man against man as we have in this particular case is also despicable what is more despicable is when you have a person in power and immunity conducting themselves in a way that would be reprehensible. So in that regard yes, we do have the element of the diplomatic missions in Belize and what are represented in terms of Belize and foreign relationships; but that should not play a role, and I don’t believe that it will play a role. Where it does play a role is where the foreign person is the one who conducted himself in a way and survives. Immunity does tend to prejudice the local person in this particular instance it is left for the court to decide and I will not dive into that till after it is all said and done.”

 

Madam Justice Antoinette Moore has reserved her ruling for May twenty-fifth.

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