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Oct 15, 2020

7 Escaped Prisoners are Arraigned; 2 Plead Not Guilty to Escape, while 5 Others are Sentenced

Tonight, the police and B.D.F. have recaptured five more escaped prisoners; fourteen remain on the lam following Monday’s epic jailbreak from the Belize Central Prison in Hattieville.  A total of twenty-eight inmates made a daring break that started at one o’clock and lasted until six when they made their way out of the AdSeg area of the prison. Since then, there has been talk of collusion with prison guards, a charge that is under investigation.  The police and B.D.F. have cast a wide net in a manhunt and most of the escapees so far have been recaptured in the area of the Coastal Road and the George Price Highway.  This morning, seven of them were taken to court under heavy police escort.  A News Five team was at the courthouse and Duane Moody files this report.

 

Chester Williams

Chester Williams, Commissioner of Police

“So far we have recaptured a total of nine of the escapees leaving a total of nineteen who are still at large. The others have been charged by the police for escape and will be arraigned in the courts today.”

 

Duane Moody, Reporting

This morning, seven of the eight recaptured prison escapees were brought to the Magistrate’s Court in Belize City and arraigned for the charge of escape from prison before Senior Magistrate Tricia Pitts Anderson. First to arrive was Mark Pelayo in a police pickup truck escorted by two officers; thirty minutes later, Kevin Buller, Christopher Bradley, Orlando Smith, Kenroy Gamboa, Mennonite George Bednrick and Guatemalan national Juan Ramirez were brought in a police van by the G.S.U.

Pelayo was represented by attorney Oscar Selgado, while attorney Ronell Gonzalez represented Buller; both pleaded not guilty to the charge and were remanded until December fourth.

 

Ronell Gonzalez, Attorney for Kevin Buller

“Mister Buller was arraigned for the offence of escape from prison. He pleaded not guilty and that plea was accepted by the magistrate. What happen, it is common knowledge that there were three masterminds behind this entire escape. And my client’s instructions are that he was given an ultimatum, either go along with the situation or he would have been dealt with by the other prisoners that were there. So basically he was under duress so to speak to act in that manner.”

 

Reporter

“So you’ve been forced into the escape under duress. What was his explanation for taking so long to either turn himself in or to get somewhere where he could be safely away from these persons who put him under duress?”

 

Mark Pelayo

Ronell Gonzalez

“Could you imagine the situation of being in fear now that you are an escapee from the prison and to my instructions again, he was found somewhere lurking in the same Hattieville area. He wasn’t in hiding; to my knowledge, he isn’t badly beaten or so. I find it that he was lurking, hoping to be found and to be returned to the prison. It isn’t a situation where he was found in some remote location so that is the reason why it might have taken a bit of time to recapture him, but he wasn’t anywhere far from the prison; that is my understanding.”

 

Buller was on remand for violating the curfew.

 

Ronell Gonzalez

Ronell Gonzalez

“My client was actually on remand for a very basic offense. He was on remand for the offense of breach of curfew and that in itself is a bailable offence. The facts as to why he was remanded in such a basic offense is beyond me. I would have to investigate further into that, but that is the situation with Mister Buller at this time.”

 

But what is the maximum penalty that Buller and Pelayo could face if the court finds them guilty of escape?

 

Ronell Gonzalez

“If I am current, we are looking at a term of one to two years imprisonment as far as the prison act is concerned. That is one of the considerations that the magistrate was taking inside the courtroom just a while ago. She is actually in the process of passing sentence on those other individuals that have pleaded guilty in these matters.”

 

Reporter

“How many of them have pleaded guilty, as far as you are aware sir?”

 

Ronell Gonzalez

“I am aware of about four or so that have pleaded guilty. And I am aware of two of those that have pleaded not guilty, my client being one of those.”

 

The five others, who were unrepresented, pleaded guilty to the charge. While Bednrik, Gamboa and Ramirez were sentenced to one year in prison, Bradley and Smith were given one year and three months. Duane Moody for News Five.


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