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Mar 20, 2020

Police Department Publishes Wanted Persons List

The full force of the law to crack down on crime came down as early as three o’clock on Wednesday morning when the round up began in neighbourhoods in the city.  Later in the day, the Commissioner of Police Chester Williams announced a state of emergency in eight hot spots and the publication of the images of persons involved in gang activity.  News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports.

 

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

The Belize Police Department, on the instruction of the Ministry of National Security, has published the identities of over forty persons wanted in relation to their purported involvement in gang activity.  At a press conference on Wednesday during which a state of emergency for south side Belize City was announced, Commissioner of Police Chester Williams made it expressly clear that law enforcement will be targeting known criminal elements as part of a citywide crackdown on gang violence in the days ahead.

 

Chester Williams

Chester Williams, Commissioner of Police [File: March 18th, 2020]

“There are a number of persons that we’re still seeking at this time for whom we have prepared detention orders for.  We will be preparing a list for those persons with their photograph and we’ll be publishing them in the media so that you can see them, and if you see them anywhere in your neighbourhood, call us, call Crime Stoppers.  They’ll be giving a reward for the capturing of these persons.”

 

According to Commander of Operations, Assistant Commissioner of Police Marco Vidal, the predawn raid on Wednesday morning led to the detention of eighty two persons.  That initial number has since multiplied with the capture of additional persons from another list.

 

Marco Vidal

ACP Marco Vidal, Commander of Operations

“Those numbers will increase of course as we continue to do the investigations and identify other persons that may be involved, so we may have a supplementary list.  But as the commissioner has mentioned, those persons who may have thought that they can flee the area without any, without impunity, the notices will be prepared or are being prepared and within two or three days, as the commissioner mentioned, we will be publishing those persons and anybody who is harboring any of these persons will also be dealt with within the same law.”

 

In defending the department’s legal position to publish the names and photographs of these men, ComPol Williams cited a section of the Constitution which speaks to the existing state of emergency.

 

Chester Williams

“While the constitution, in Section Six, speaks to the presumption of innocence, in Section Eighteen that makes provision for the state of emergency, as well as Nineteen, it states clearly what are the requirements and what must be done and it is that same constitution that states that the names of the persons must be published in a gazette within fourteen days.  So if one my argue that it inconsistent, then they are saying that the constitution [contradicts] its own self which makes no sense.”

 

Persons incarcerated under the present state of emergency face a minimum of thirty days at the Belize Central Prison. Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.


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