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Jul 30, 2008

ComPol tackles case of missing evidence

Story PictureA police prosecutor is in the hot seat for missing evidence in the sensational case involving businessman, Jose Shoman. The Belize City businessman was freed of charges on July eleventh but the case is far from over and the prosecutor, Sergeant Ludwig Castillo, is on interdiction while a police tribunal decides his fate.

Shoman was charged on may sixth with Keeping an Unlicensed Shotgun and Possession of Ammunition above the Specified Amount and he walked away free of the charges when Magistrate Gabb agreed with Shoman’s attorney, Edwin Flowers that he had no case to answer. But on the day of the trial, the evidence tendered fell short of what was actually seized at the residence of the businessman in a raid that lasted well over five hours. The case fell apart when the Prosecutor did not produce the one hundred and ninety-one cartridges and one hundred and twenty-eight rounds of point thirty-eight caliber ammunition as exhibit because he claimed that twenty-eight rounds of point thirty-eight ammunition and five cartridges were missing. Today Commissioner Gerald Westby left no holds barred when he spoke to News Five about the missing evidence.

Gerald Westby, Police Commissioner
“Certainly it was an embarrassing situation for the Police Department and we will not tolerate this sort of misconduct and it was investigated and during the investigation the evidence, and I do not want to prejudice the tribunal at this time, it came out that the Sergeant—we are alleging—may have tampered … we are not saying it is so until the tribunal, and we charged him for three counts of Prejudice to Good Order and Discipline and then he will be facing a tribunal.”

Marion Ali
“How was it Sir … I know that in most cases it is the evidence keeper that fingers are pointed normally at when evidence goes missing or the person who holds the key to the evidence room where that evidence is kept. What led you to the Sergeant or the Prosecutor in this particular case?”

Gerald Westby
“Well because of the alleged unauthorised removal of the exhibits when there was no need to remove the exhibit from the exhibit room.”

Marion Ali
“He was the only one who held the keys?”

Gerald Westby
“Well no, he removed the exhibit without justifiable reason at the time. There was an occasion when he took the exhibits without justification from the exhibit room and that was logged and that is why we are saying that that could have been wherein it was allegedly tampered with.”

The tribunal is expected to conclude its investigation within the next few weeks.

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