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Nov 27, 2018

Orel Leslie Takes Belize Central Prison and Kolbe to Court

Orel Leslie

Orel Leslie has beaten a murder rap twice and since then he has been released from the Belize Central Prison.  But today, he was back at the Supreme Court for a case where he appeared as a plaintiff, challenging the Kolbe Foundation and the government for a breach of his constitutional rights. While Leslie was out of prison, he was picked up and then re-incarcerated for violating the terms of his bail conditions. It is at this time that he says he was treated inhumanely.   The prison management, however, believes that his behavior was contrary to the rigid discipline in the prison. News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports.


Isani Cayetano, Reporting

A civil suit, the first of its kind to be filed in the Supreme Court, is being litigated before Justice Courtney Abel.  The claim against the Belize Central Prison and its management organization is being brought by former inmate Orel Leslie.  He is suing the Government of Belize, as well as the Kolbe Foundation, for refusal of his constitutional rights while on remand along with two others for the murder of BDF soldier James Noralez.  Leslie has beaten that case twice, but he is not letting go of the alleged ill-treatment he received at the hands of the prison staff that easily.


Virgilio Murillo, C.E.O., Kolbe Foundation

“His claim really is one that his constitutional rights were being denied.  This claim arose from the time Orel Leslie was an inmate at the Belize Central Prison.  He had violated prison rules and in prison it is, he faces what you call a tribunal and he is not charged criminally for those offenses or those infractions, if you would want to call it that.  He is charged for offenses against prison discipline.”


So why would an internal matter, which was dealt with as such, be tried in open court?


Isani Cayetano

“Isn’t the Prison Act autonomous of the justice system?”


Virgilio Murillo

Virgilio Murillo

“It is autonomous indeed, however, there’s a thing called constitutional rights and there’s certainly the Constitution of Belize which, as far as I understand it, pretty much supersedes or trumps just about every other law.  If there’s any law that is inconsistent with that then it’s null and void, according to what I hear, you know, and pretty much what he is filing is a constitutional motion.  There’s two things that he is saying.  He’s saying that he was denied his constitutional right as it relates to the charges that he was charged for under the prison rules.  Now I am not too worried about that charge because, like I said, he didn’t commit, we didn’t charge him criminally for the offenses.  We charged him for offenses against prison discipline which is far different than a criminal charge.”


In fact, the formal accusation made against Leslie was for a capital offence that was allegedly committed by a trio of men, including himself, on the night of November 23rd, 2012.  He was subsequently taken into custody, before being arraigned and placed on pretrial detention.  While on remand, Leslie, along with two other inmates, was charged with drug trafficking when a quantity of marijuana was found in their possession.  It was one of three incidents, following an indictment for murder, where he would run afoul of the law.


Virgilio Murillo

“One of the things I want to emphasize at this point in time is that we must all understand that the prison is the last sanction available to the courts to manage those persons who have failed alternative punishments and it literally means that when you come to prison, if you carry on with your same behavior then you should be disciplined.  We can’t mince with that, we have to either try and reform you one way or the other, either through the programs or through disciplines.”


And in so doing, Leslie maintains that his human rights were violated behind bars.


Virgilio Murillo

“On the other hand, he is charging the prison or he is alleging that the prison treated him inhumanely and that is what he really has a serious burden to try and prove and that is what, I think, is really the only thing that I believe he will have to really, really prove.”


Isani Cayetano

“I hate to use the analogy of the Animal Farm and all animals being equal or not equal, but in this particular scenario is he saying that he was denied certain fundamental treatment while behind bars that would have put him in a position separate from other inmates there?”


Virgilio Murillo

“That is pretty much what he is saying.  He is pretty much alleging that maybe we may have been singling him out.  But like I said, anybody can make an allegation.  It is for them to prove, that is really the issue.”


To prove such a case, Leslie’s legal representative, Audrey Matura, is calling on a pair of witnesses to take the stand and testify on his behalf.  The procedures to be able to do so, considering that both witnesses have been condemned, were not followed prior to today’s session.


Virgilio Murillo

“What really happened, they just went through pretty much some affidavits that he had signed off on with respect to all the different pointers and the different accusations that he is bringing against the prison.  And pretty much what he did to the court this morning is, they said that there were two witnesses that they want to bring from the prison to sort of, you know, I guess listen to what they have to say.  I don’t know what they’re going to listen to or what they are going to say tomorrow, but I know for sure that it’s not going to be taken into evidence, at least not as of that point, that’s as far as I am concerned.  It’s just, I guess, a matter of them getting the attorney, in this instance, getting some kind of statement from them, I guess to sort of either corroborate or, I guess deflect what was actually alleged against the prison.”


Those persons, one of whom is serving a life sentence, would require a removal order from the Supreme Court for them to leave the facility.  Their argument, says Murillo, is neither here nor there considering their convictions.


Virgilio Murillo

“The prisoners that they want to bring out are both convicted prisoners and attorneys need to know that if a prisoner has been convicted there is really no case to fight for that prisoner anymore, unless you are appealing the case.  And as far as I am concerned, these prisoners have been convicted quite a while ago.  That twenty-one day appeal time has already elapsed.  As a matter of fact, one of them is doing a life sentence, you know, so Ms. Audrey Matura knows that, or she should know, that if you need to get a prisoner out of prison other than the normal removal for the purpose of attending a hearing, you need to get a special order from the judge.”


Those inmates, who are yet to be identified, are expected to go before the court during the course of the proceedings.  The hearing resumes on Wednesday morning. Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

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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1 Response for “Orel Leslie Takes Belize Central Prison and Kolbe to Court”

  1. Marie says:

    Special order Shouldn’t be hard to get, but if you beat murder rap 2x, you’re not guilty or you have a good attorney. Jail is not a hotel getaway, it is for punishment and rehabilitation so, you fools in there, change your ways. Make it easy on yourself and the community

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