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Mar 28, 2001

Espat deplores police thefts, ducks blame

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While the Minister of National Security was having no problem in procuring equipment for his troops, he has had considerably less success in keeping it out of the hands of thieves. News 5′s Jose Sanchez asked Espat about the four recent thefts from the police and BDF.

Jorge Espat

“It is unfortunate, it is embarrassing and it should not be happening. We have communicated our displeasure with the Commissioner of Police in the strongest possible measure. The issue for us at the Ministry of National Security is that it should never happen and I know yesterday I saw a correspondence from the commissioner’s office setting out a catalogue of initiatives. We’re hoping that those initiatives once they’re implemented will prevent these things from happening. It is an indictment on the Belize Police Department.”

Jose Sanchez

“People want to know what will be done to ensure that this does not happen again?”

Jorge Espat

“Well, as the Minister of National Security, I hold the Commissioner of Police responsible for the conduct and performance of the Belize Police Department, as we do for the Commandant of the Belize Defence Force. So we hold those individuals responsible and we will take the necessary action if the heads of our departments are unable to perform to a satisfactory level.”

Jose Sanchez

“In addition to corruption charges, there is also, for example, the issue of brutality, such as Daniel Tillett from the Cayo area who has died while in police custody.”

Jorge Espat

“Yes. Again, I think many Belizeans were disappointed with the outcome of the court case. In fact, we are not taking that matter lightly and I have directed the CEO of the ministry to meet with the Commissioner and in fact I know very early this morning there was a meeting with the Chief Justice, the Commissioner of Police and the CEO of the Ministry.”

“We are also strengthening the prosecuting branch of the Belize Police Department. Next month we will have another individual senior to be assigned to the prosecution branch. The Attorney General’s ministry is advertising openly in the region to attract a qualified attorney, who will be posted to the prosecution branch. Again, we insist that the police must do investigations that will hold up in any court of law, and we are hoping that something positive will come out of this and in fact that the Commissioner of Police will ensure that sloppy police investigation does not persist because that does not help in the fight against crime and criminals.”

Although one suspect has been charged in the recent break in at the Dragon Unit’s exhibit room, not a single suspect has been arrested in the theft of high-powered weapons from the Police Training School, Belmopan police exhibit room or B.D.F. armoury in Ladyville. This morning Espat also told the media that B.D.F. troops are on the scene at Edwards Central. They will be keeping an eye on the illegal Guatemalan settlement there until the diplomatic process takes its course and the residents return to Guatemala.

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