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Feb 28, 2001

Autopsy: Guatemalan died of drowning, not beaten

The result of a postmortem on the body of a Guatemalan recovered from the Mopan River on Monday shows that he died from drowning. The result of the autopsy, which would otherwise be considered routine, was anxiously awaited by officials on both sides of the border due to controversy surrounding the death. According to Guatemalan press reports, twenty-nine year old Lenin Garcia was attacked by vicious hunting dogs and beaten by Belizean border guards before falling into the river on Saturday. Belizean authorities have consistently denied the reports, insisting that Garcia, who was attempting to cross the border illegally, tried to flee when he saw a Belizean official. He jumped into the river and went under water on his way to the Guatemalan side and never came up. The autopsy report, released by the police, said that there were no signs of bruising on Garcia’s body and he died of asphyxiation due to drowning. Police will continue their investigation into the incident. Due to the sensitive climate created by negotiations with Guatemala over illegal settlements in southern Belize, Prime Minister Said Musa had ordered all patrols in the Benque area by the Border Management Agency to be suspended.

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