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Jan 15, 2013

Police officer charged for death of Punta Gorda Resident

Robert Mariano

One month after a Punta Gorda resident was found dead in a drain, a Police Constable has been charged in connection with his death. The officer, forty year old Leon Higinio, was arraigned for the death of fifty-three year old Francisco Shol. The tragic death of Shol, a driver of the Punta Gorda Town Hospital, sparked an investigation by local authorities following allegations by family members that his death was caused by Higinio, who is attached to the Special Patrol Unit in Belmopan. Numerous witnesses were questioned and by all accounts, Shol was socializing at the P.G. Sports Bar when he was allegedly beaten up by the off-duty police officer who transported him to the hospital. Shol discharged himself, but was later found dead in a drain with a fractured skull. News Five spoke via phone to the Investigating Officer, Superintendent Robert Mariano, about the incident. Mariano says that the department will not tolerate any wrongdoing on part of police officers and that Higinio has since been placed on interdiction.

 

Via Phone: Supt. Robert Mariano, Investigating Officer

“Today I had arrested and charged Leon Higinio, a forty year old Police Constable for the crime of Manslaughter by Negligence for the death of Mister Francisco Shol which was committed on the fourteenth of December 2012.  I and other police officers conducted investigation and we recorded statements from about ten witnesses and as a result of the investigation, it was evidence enough for me to arrest and charge the constable for manslaughter.”

 

Duane Moody

“Mister, P.C. Higinio, I believe that he is now on interdiction. Which department and of course which branch was he attached to an in what area?”

 

Via Phone: Supt. Robert Mariano

“He was in the Special Patrol Unit in Belmopan; there is where he was posted. As soon as the department learnt of the accusation of a police officer being involved in a misconduct especially in this case, I was directed immediately to come to Punta Gorda Town and to conduct an investigation which I did and the investigation led to the arrest of the police constable. It shows that the department is strict and will not cover up any wrongdoing of any police officer.”

 

As was said, Higinio is now on interdiction from the force.

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21 Responses for “Police officer charged for death of Punta Gorda Resident”

  1. Storm says:

    BRAVO! We’re not used to officers being held to account for their crimes. These charges will certainly increase respect of most Belizeans for the police, and maybe especially for the new ComPol. Maybe it will also send a grim message to the rogue and outlaw police who infest the force from north to south and east to west — you can’t hide your crimes behind your badge anymore.

    I hope this case is the first ray of light in a new dawn for law enforcement in the Jewel.

  2. NY says:

    Hopefully they can covict this officer in this case; I applaud Mr. Moriano for being brave enough to let the evidence of the investigation dictate his action. Im sure that most people in Bze support good, brave and honest cops because they put their lives on the front line everyday to protect them……. this is why i’m quite sure that many of them (i.e. Bzean ppl) are more than glad to see rougue cops who hide behind their badges and abuse their power being kicked out of the force. I’m hoping that w/ the expulsion of more incompetent and rougue officers who are evidently tainting the name of the entire police force, the public will be able to develop a greater trust and relationship w/ the police department, which in turn could yield better coorperation that could aid in the battle against crimes in 2013 and beyond.

  3. no news says:

    “It shows that the department is strict and will not cover up any wrongdoing of any police officer.”
    that is good news to hear.

    How about the rest of the government?
    Too corrupted to come clean?
    Too many secret money deals to reveal?
    Too high up?

  4. Rod says:

    See this kind of corruption is blatant in this gov. And it starts from the top ,no wonder no one hace any trust in this pm and gov. Because instead of protecting the citizens of this nation they are killing people march people march kick this useless incompetent corrupt pm and gov. Out lock them up for murder.

  5. issues says:

    If they were serious he would have been remanded to Hatville without bail just like anyone else that has committed a murder

  6. twosweetinez says:

    Mariano is full of !@#$,how credible are your witnesses?Has Reyesl being charged for the murder of Chsanchez.

  7. Pitbull says:

    This is not the first time this assifer – sorry officer – has disturbed and thretened people who already seem to be getting him tipsy. And why only manslaughter? Wasn’t a person dead? Murder maybe?

  8. Nimbo says:

    Hats off to you sir- if anything it is a start. Hoping all loopholes were covered and that it now rests on the hands of the DPP and prosecution.

  9. Al says:

    This is a start in the right direction, now do something about the rogue cops in San Pedro. If only others in government will step up and begin to do what is right and best for the people and country. Make us a proud country again, let us be proud to say we are Belizeans.

  10. blackberry says:

    A forty years old policeman without a stripe, is this an indication of the quality of the people the department recruit?

  11. just checking says:

    are these hate crimes, is their racial animosity here, like wise in San Pedro, nobody wants to discuss this type of racism in Belize, only racism against blacks is accepted. I think we need to start the discussion.

  12. Elgintinez says:

    Mariano you don’t need to try this officer in the court of public opinion.Give him his day in court.Since when has the Police department being transparent?Stop the double standard why wasn’t thesame pressure brought upon Sgt Reyes,is it because PC Sanchez was Garifuna?

  13. Elgintinez says:

    When will PC Sanchez family get justice for the murder of their love one?

  14. Seletar says:

    I wish EVERYONE in Belize could become colorblind when it comes to race. That includes the highest leadership. We’re all equally God’s children.

  15. Bear says:

    @Pitbull makes a good point — if I killed a man using a club, as was reported in this case, I’d be facing a murder charge. So should the officer. A judge or jury might reduce it to manslaughter, depending on the evidence, but why give him such a huge a break before the trial?

  16. starla says:

    what the heck? what’s the difference b/w death of a garifuna and the death of the maya man? the officers found responsible were hauled away to prison and this officer walks on bail?

  17. gisela says:

    the problems of belize did not start in the last fiv years. What we are seeing in belize was sown in the years between 1998 and 2007 under u know who. theses people raped and pillaged us that it will take at least three or four terms of mr barrows govt to get us out of this. is the BLUE gets back in we will be done once and for all.

  18. learnfacts says:

    cant charge for murder. the accuse took the victim to the hospital and then the victim denied himself medical treatment by discharging himself. read chapter 101 of the laws of belize before you judge and talk crap. and on the issue of reyes vs. the state. it was members of the public like you who were on the inquiry who determine that he was not to be held accountable for his crime. read your laws. learn the facts pple.

  19. learnyourlaws says:

    cant charge for murder. no intent to kill if the accuse took the victim to the hospital and then the victim denied himself medical treatment by discharging himself. read chapter 101 of the laws of belize before you judge and talk crap. and on the issue of reyes vs. the state. it was members of the public like you who were on the inquiry who determine that he was not to be held accountable for his crime. read your laws. learn the facts pple.

  20. Leo says:

    Totally agree with you Starla. I try not to think of color but its hard not to when this crap happens. Within a couple days the 2 Mayan officers were carted off to jail.
    Leon Higinio was off duty and drinking on this night when he killed Francisco Shol. His lawyer claimed that it occurred while he was on duty, which is false. The prosecutor (a police officer) did not object to bail(signed bail, no money), even though he threatened witness. He definitely will intimidate witnesses as the trial date nears.
    An independent prosecutor needs to be appointed whenever a police officer is charged so that there is no bias and looking out for their brothers.

  21. Pitbull says:

    Personally i hav seen this public officer – after someone sponsoring him a few beers – to become aggresive if the sponsorer refuses to continue sponsoring him. There is no racism between maya, garifuna, spanish , or any ethnic group here. it all depends on the competency or impartiality of who is assigned to investigate! Hats off to mariano! Can maybe he put more pressure on this case and set a precedent to future rogue, begging cops?

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