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Nov 18, 2013

Allegation of unnecessary force by Coast Guard a hoax

Jorge Aldana

There is a serious allegation arising from the Coast Guard operation on Ambergris Caye over the weekend. As officers transported the injured Frank Edwards to the San Pedro Polyclinic, they were spotted by San Pedro Sun journalist, Jorge Aldana. Aldana started taking pictures of the men and that’s when things allegedly went south. While there has been no official statement from our journalist colleague, there are claims that the Coast Guard operatives pointed their weapons at him and he was relieved of his phone and camera. This afternoon the San Pedro Sun issued a press release in which it stated that it is investigating the incident of unnecessary force. Vice Commandant Elton Bennett today confirmed that Aldana’s camera and phone were taken away from him to protect the identity of the Coast Guard officers. But at this point, pending a full internal investigation, he denies that guns were pointed at the journalist or that he was manhandled in any way.

 

Commander Elton Bennett, Vice Commandant, Belize Coast Guard

“As of now we have been dialoguing with the San Pedro Sun and we have not received an official report or complaint from them. We have talked to them on the phone. Once we receive a copy of a report we will do an official internal investigation. So far it’s just rumours. We have interviewed and started our internal processing into the allegations and so far we’ve found that the allegations are not as he mentioned. We’ve also talked to some of the Police Officers who were in the area and asked them for their account of the situation and it’s not what he said. What happened is that as a journalist he was there doing his duty and we respect that, but he also needs to respect our privacy as relates to these types of operations. He was informed that he’s not allowed to take pictures of the individuals who were on that patrol. This is a breach of operational security. This could put our men at risk, so therefore we informed him of that. He continued so we took away his camera and deleted the pictures of those individuals whose faces were on his camera and we did that for operational security purposes.”

 

Elton Bennett

Reporter

“Was his equipment handed back to him? I understand his phone was also taken away.”

 

Commander Elton Bennett

“His camera and phone were taken away from him and given back to him in good order.”

 

Bennett says that Aldana was held against a wall and searched to ensure that he had no weapons on him, since he was within the area of operation of the Coast Guard team. This evening News Five spoke to Officer Commanding the San Pedro Police Formation Luis Castellanos, who confirmed from police officers on the scene that at no time were any weapons trained at Aldana during the incident.

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3 Responses for “Allegation of unnecessary force by Coast Guard a hoax”

  1. islander says:

    Thank you for trying to give us civvies info on the happenings in our community.

    THANK YOU Coast Guard for putting your lives at risk for the safety of our community.

    I see a mistake was made by the journalist by taking pics of officers who were actively on an OP. That is a NO, NO as this men are putting their lives and the lives of their families at risk by going on such high risk OPs.

    TIME FOR BOTH ENTITIES TO MOVE ON :)

  2. Belizean Pride says:

    I think that during operations like this journalist can take picture of the officers but before making it public to have a talk with the commander to see if it’s o.k or not to divulge certain images. but for further operations I’d recommend the commander to have his officers use mask and so this things won’t happen. Also media people should work hand in hand with the law for various beneficial reason for both groups.

  3. bob says:

    coast guard they are going around looking to see if they find the wet trop and acting like a terrorist
    killing civilian and pretending doing there job. people open your eyes and don’t believe what they talk on the media.

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