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Aug 30, 2001

Capt. Borland testifies at Tower Hill inquiry

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When a commission of inquiry was established to investigate the incident at Tower Hill, there were a few of us who believed the truth would be revealed. But as News 5 found out today, that might not happen. Perhaps the most important man took the stand this afternoon, Captain John Borland, the soldier who fired his weapon. How many times he did so, has been the question everyone wants answered. It turns out the B.D.F. is sticking to their story, even though News 5′s footage has clearly shown there had to be a second B.D.F. gunman on the bridge. Ann-Marie Williams has the details.

Ann-Marie Williams, Reporting

After two days of testimonies in Orange Walk, the commission has moved to the old capital. The Commission of inquiry charged to investigate the circumstances surrounding the July thirtieth riot at the Tower Hill Bridge in Orange Walk, called five witnesses today. Among them were Senior Superintendent Bernard Lino and Captains John Borland and Steve Ortega of the B.D.F.

Perhaps the most interesting testimony came this afternoon from Captain John Borland, when he said “I fired all nine shots from my rifle.” He said, “I fired above the crowd to the right of the bridge.” Commission Chairman Justice Christopher Blackman, asked Captain Borland if he fired into the crowd at any time. Borland’s reply was “No sir,” and said seven hundred and eighty rounds of ammunition were issued to the B.D.F. platoon and seven hundred and seventy-one were accounted for.

Borland was also asked if it was likely that any other B.D.F. soldier could have had a surplus. He emphatically replied, “no.” In cross-examining Borland, Crown Counsel Wethworth Willis told him it’s the procedure for them no to store extra ammunition, but this is reality. The Captain finally admitted it was a possibility and gave an affirmative.

When Senior Superintendent Bernard Lino took the stand, Chairman Blackman asked him if he had any intelligence that the July thirtieth riot was going to happen. His response was that on July twenty-seventh, shortly after 3:00 p.m. Police Commissioner Hughington Williams informed him of a possible disturbance in connection with bus permits.

Although it’s a public commission of inquiry, Justice Blackman asked for the court to be cleared during part of Superintendent Lino’s testimony as he had a few questions to ask him en camera.

The three-man commission of inquiry will continue with its hearings tomorrow. Expected to testify are Transport Commissioner Glen Arthurs and Barbara Zelaya, the secretary who issues the transport permits. Reporting from the Supreme Court building in Belize City, Ann-Marie Williams for News 5.

According to Blackman, it is within his discretion to hear parts of testimonies in private if he thinks the answers will include sensitive material. The last testimony today was given by Captain Steven Ortega, which collaborated with the testimony of Senior Superintendent Bernard Lino.

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