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Jan 21, 2019

3 South American Nationals Arraigned for ATM Scam

Three suspect ATM scammers, all South American nationals, were arraigned in the Belize Magistrate’s Court this afternoon. Chilean Juan Espinosa Saaveria, Colombian Edgar Vargas Vaca and Peruvian Luis Robles Marroquin were in police custody since Thursday. Today, they were charged for preparation of a crime and appeared before Senior Magistrate Patricia Arana. While all three were charged jointly for the January seventeenth incident in the Dangriga jurisdiction, Espinosa was additionally charged for a second count of preparation of a crime for an incident on January sixteenth at the Scotia Bank ATM at Belama in Belize City.  Their attorney, Hurl Hamilton, made submissions for bail; prosecutor Corporal Christopher Smith objected. Senior Magistrate Arana went on to deny bail and remanded the trio to the central prison until March twentieth for the Belize City trial and March twenty-eighth in connection with the crime in southern Belize. In court today, Hamilton argued that his clients were legally here on a one-month visitor’s permit and that the matter could have been dealt with summarily and not on indictment, as stipulated by the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions.


Hurl Hamilton

Hurl Hamilton, Attorney-at-law

“These three foreign nationals were picked up on Thursday about one o’clock in Thursday afternoon. They did not receive a charge until late Saturday around seven, eight in the night; that would have been well beyond the forty-eight hours. So my clients’ rights have been breached. So we start off on that premise. But yes, there is charges before the court and all three of them have been charged with preparation to commit a crime. You heard in court that we wanted the matter to be heard summarily. The learned magistrate was of the view that the matter is to be heard on indictment as the D.P.P.’s office is of the few that the matter is to be heard on indictment. I was of the view that because the defendants have the authority to choose which forum, which jurisdiction, it could have been heard summarily. But it is on indictment and the magistrate has refused bail. Preparation of a crime is on the law books. I don’t believe it has ever been used, but I stand to be correct. In my opinion the evidence is weak; preparation to commit a crime is not an offense. For it to be attempt, it has to be more than preparation, but there is an offense preparation of a crime. But we are saying based on what we have from the fact sheets of the police, there is not even preparation. But when we reach at the appropriate stage, all of that is going to be ventilated.”

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