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Jan 29, 2003

Magistrate: Moore insisted on being charged

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The Human Rights Commission of Belize today issued a strong denunciation of police for what they say is a campaign to harass those who stand up to widespread police brutality. The H.R.C.B. complaint focuses on the arrest of Michael Flores and Antoinette Moore for drug trafficking. The couple have been outspoken opponents of aggressive police actions, particularly in Dangriga, where Moore is a practicing attorney. Cops raided a farm they own outside of Hopkins on Saturday and found over a pound of weed. According to a police release on Monday, the pair were to be charged in Dangriga Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday, but late Monday evening police press officer G. Michael Reid informed us that the police commissioner had instructed his prosecutor to drop charges against Moore, who was not present during the raid, on the grounds that a conviction was unlikely. That’s where we thought the matter rested, until we were informed that come Tuesday both Flores and Moore were charged with drug trafficking, entered not guilty pleas and granted bail of five thousand dollars each plus two sureties. So what happened? According to presiding Dangriga Magistrate Harrison Hulett, there were indeed no charges to read against Moore; only her husband. But Moore showed up in the dock anyway and insisted that charges be read against her. Hulett declined, but after further protestations, Superintendent Ewart Itza, officer in charge of Dangriga police, threw in the towel and complied with Moore’s request. The couple’s next court date is set for April fourteenth.

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