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Jun 10, 2016

Bulgarian Duo Sentenced to One Year Jail Time for Theft

Two Bulgarian nationals, who were caught stealing from the Belize Bank ATM in early May of this year, begin a prison term behind bars tonight.  Senior Magistrate Sharon Fraser imposed a custodial sentence upon both after they pleaded guilty to eighteen counts of theft each. Jeorji Petrov and Halid Yuksel Aptula will have to serve a total of one year behind bars for the theft offenses.  The Senior Magistrate, in handing down the sentence said she took into consideration the fact that they saved the court’s time when they pleaded guilty and that her task is to balance the sentence since their actions were deliberate and if not for the alert bank officer, the duo would still be carrying out the crimes. When both accused heard the jail time imposed, Petrov was the first to show how shocked he was.  He held his face with his hands and asked permission to get the sentence explained since he was confused. As to his partner in crime, Aptula, he remained concerned about how the fourteen counts were to run and asked the court to allow his translator to explain.   As it relates to the forfeiting of the items the men were found with, Senior Magistrate Fraser has deferred her ruling on that aspect until June twenty-first 2016. That is because it was brought to the court’s attention that according to the law, the application to have the confiscated items forfeited cannot be made in court until the deadline for appealing the case has expired. 


Christelle Wilson

Christelle Wilson, Attorney

“When we look the law, the maximum sentence could have been anywhere to three or more years or a fine way exceeding what we had thought would have come out of this. So for them to get three months to run concurrently and three months consecutively, which amounts to one year, we find that to be very lenient and we are very thankful to the court for giving us that sentence today. What you also saw in court today was the application for a confiscation order being made by the prosecution, which was what we were trying to knock down on the grounds that they were found guilty of eight thousand dollars and six thousand dollars respectively. So it doesn’t satisfy the threshold of the prosecution to bring an application under the Money laundering and Prevention of Terrorism Act, for a serious offense for them to confiscate the monies that were found at the premises of the two individuals.”



“What’s the final situation on that? Has the court decided on that particular issue?”


Christelle Wilson

“Well the court has not made a decision as yet. What the court is saying is that they would like to have some time to look at the specific laws that relate to the confiscation order to see if it does fall within the threshold for the prosecution to be able to bring that application. And remember what the prosecution highlighted today is that if it is in fact that they can bring that application, they have to wait for the twenty-one days for the appeal of the first conviction of the one year to have passed before they can institute that application.”


The whistle was blown when an employee of the bank, Yoni Aguirre, reported that on Saturday, May sixth, 2016, he went to withdraw cash at the Belize Bank ATM on Albert Street. He recognized a person of interest for fraudulent transactions based on ongoing investigations by the bank. Halid Aptula then proceeded to the North Front Street Belize Bank ATM located at the Caye Caulker Water Taxi Terminal where he was arrested. Police then searched his house which led to the discovery of one hundred and eleven fake credit along with two hundred and fifty blank plastic cards, twenty-one thousand dollars in different denominations as well as other items.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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