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Dec 30, 2019

Trial Begins for Sensational Drug Bust Back in September 2018 involving a Top Cop

Trial finally began today for the group of men accused of participating in the September ninth, 2018 landing of a drug plane in Tres Leguas, near Blue Creek in the Orange Walk District. That group includes former Commander of the Orange Walk Police Formation Superintendent David Chi and Police Constable Norman Anthony, along with two Mexican Nationals, Eli Figueroa Nunez and Azarias Manzano. The trial commenced inside the Orange Walk Magistrate Court, well over a year after police intercepted the plane in Blue Creek carrying twenty-six bales of cocaine. For context, upon the discovery of the plane, both Mexican nationals and Peter Friesen Junior were arrested and later charged for importing drugs into Belize and drug trafficking. Superintendent David Chi and Officer Norman Anthony were later placed on administrative leave and eventually indicted for their alleged involvement. However in May of this year, Peter Friesen was freed and charges against the other four men were reduced to conspiring to land the drug plane. Later on in September of that year, both officers were granted and met a hefty bail of one hundred and fifty thousand dollars each. The Director of Public Prosecution then handed the conduct of the trial to the police’s prosecution branch meaning that the trial would not take place in the Supreme Court but in a summary jurisdiction court before a Senior Magistrate and without a jury. The trial was to have started in August but adjourned since the police’s prosecution attorney Alifa Elrington was on sick leave and unable to attend. Attorney Leroy Banner is representing Norman Anthony and Attorney David Moralez represents former Commander David Chi.  Attorney Dickie Bradley was also in court today for Eli Nunez. The attorneys made several submissions before Senior Magistrate Patricia Arana.  For Bradley, a major concern is for the trial not to be dragged on, seeing as it has taken more than a year to begin, especially for both Mexican nationals who have been behind bars since their arrest.


Dickie Bradley

Dickie Bradley, Attorney-at-law

“Trial started, there were a number of preliminary matters, legal arguments and submissions. The magistrate hearing the matter is Senior Magistrate Patricia Arana and she gave her rulings and what will now transpire is that trial will continue on Monday, which will be the sixth day of January, where those who claim they have information that will assist the prosecution will get their testimony and of course be cross-examined by the various attorneys. There are nineteen witnesses who are listed in the disclosure provided by the accused persons. Today also saw one of the new attorneys who is also a senior police officer. I think the Commissioner has about three or four police officers who are trained in the law working in his department. One of them did come to court and was saying to me that they are making applications to the court to confiscate motorcycle and vehicle and whatever other item or equipment were found when they captured the plane and the contents of the plane. So that was also a matter that was also in front of Senior Magistrate Arana as well. So today I was pointing out that under the procedure rules that govern trials and criminal matters that there are persons who are in prison from September of 2018. The law looks very unfavorable on that matter because the law is that the trial should really be concluded within a certain period. In the normal course of things that period would be six months. You can’t have human beings caged up in the prison. One of them is very ill; both of them were administered a horrific beating when they were caught in the area—not doing anything. So there were concerns, but the main concern was that a trial had not yet started. Finally, we got a chance to make a start with the trial but you would have heard me making the submission to say that in the Supreme Court, we do things a little differently. In that the prosecution would advise us, we are defending people; it is their legal right to be defended. You can’t have a fair trial if you are not given all the information. So we were saying, we would know whether nineteen witnesses would come parading through the court or they would not use four or five or whatever. We would have a very good idea; they would tell the senior magistrate we would only use twelve or thirteen of the witnesses and the trial will only take two days or three days so that we can know because they are people in prison and they are in. And if you look at them, they don’t look the same way like when they last appeared in court. One man has lost twenty-odd pounds. He has a sickness which his family has to come bring medicine for him all the time. The concern is whether you will come to court if you will be given bail or whether the bail will be such that you can’t dare not come to court—you can report to the police station every day, they can restrict your movements and so forth. But that was one of the issues that I was raising that we don’t want the trial to drag on for a number of reasons. It is now one year, four months.”


The trial continues on Monday January sixth.

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