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Mar 24, 2009

Officer charged with Abetment in murder of Chinese National

Story PictureThe cops believe they have cracked the recent grizzly murder of a Chinese national in Orange Walk Town. And as it turns out, the case has the plot twists of a Sherlock Holmes mystery novel… murder for a business transaction gone sour. This morning the charge of Abetment to Commit Murder, the second most serious charge that can be brought against anyone, was read to Police Constable one-twenty-seven Manuel Hill for the murder of Chinese worker, thirty-eight year old Hui Lin Chen. Police claim that Hill, attached to the Canine Unit in Belmopan, acted in collusion with the mastermind behind the murder, a Chinese businessman who carries the last name Lou, a resident in Belmopan. Police are alleging that Luo contacted Hill to arrange for the hit on his nemesis Ye Bao You in Orange Walk. The contract hit was purportedly made between February first and March seventh, after the alleged knife-bearer and gunman, ex-police constable, Kevin “Cowboy” Alvarez, was brought into the picture. But the wrong man, Hui Lin Chen was killed. Chen’s attacker accosted him around nine-thirty on the night of March fourteenth on the second floor of Mai’s building at corner Park Avenue and Lover’s Lane in Orange Walk Town. That same night, police apprehended “Cowboy” after an exchange of gunfire left him and three police officers wounded. He was charged last week in connection with the Murder and Attempted Murder against the officers. Police believe that Luo contacted Hill to help him find someone who would assassinate You. As part of their evidence, police say they have phone records of text messages and calls allegedly made between Hill and Luo and then Luo and Alvarez. Today Hill, who is now on interdiction, was arraigned for allegedly assisting Alvarez in pulling off the crime. News Five was in Belmopan to get first-hand information of the happenings and the prospects for the trial.

Marion Ali, Reporting
While P.C. Manuel Hill’s face was blank as Magistrate Albert Hoare read his charge, outside, one of his defense attorneys, Dickey Bradley expressed his feeling that the allegation against his client is absurd.

“Dickie” Bradley, Attorney for Manuel Hill
“That a police officer of twelve years is alleged to be involved in an incredibly horrendous offense in Orange Walk, now it is my understanding that over the weekend the police detained one of their own, Manuel Hill as well as the other person whose name is on the charge sheet and in fairness to that person I will not call the name. They were both detained and strange as it is the other person who is really the mastermind has been released.”

Police and the D.P.P.’s office have not yet ascertained if any charges will be levied against the alleged mastermind in the case, but Head of National Crimes Investigations, Senior Superintendent James Magdaleno, says they have reason for that.

Sr. Supt. James Magdaleno, Head of C.I.B.
“The Chinese businessman was yes, detained on Friday and he was released on Saturday. We are working with him along with the Director of Public Prosecutions. We must take into consideration that the abetment might have taken place in Belmopan and if we charge everybody we won’t have anybody as witnesses. So we have to look at that likewise. Everybody cannot be charged; there must be somebody in the crowd that the prosecution will have to use as a witness.”

Bradley added that Hill’s arrest is even more ludicrous because Hill was set up after he tried to nab the alleged mastermind, Mr. Luo.

Dickie Bradley
“He gave a statement to assist in helping his colleagues who told them man, noh knock out yohself, dis dah soh and soh. Wi jus need yoh fi fill di gap because wi got di man, you know wi got ah lock up and so on and then to his shock that person walks out of the police station Sunday and he is kept back and then late yesterday evening, last night, he gets this incredible charge.”

Marion Ali
“The guys who are tasked with keeping law and order, not just this one time but many times before have been accused of corruption, soliciting, bribery and the list goes on, what can the department do and what is it looking at in order to clean up these bad eggs, so to speak and I guess improve the image of the department?”

Sr. Supt. James Magdaleno
“As you rightly said we got a black eye, we’re embarrassed, mostly myself, who is in charge of crimes for the entire country and the high command of the department, we’re very much embarrassed and the players involved that we’re investigating. But as a part of the Crook’s report, we have also recommended that we put a team together to deal with these types of crimes and corruption that is happening everywhere and the Police Department is no exception. So we’re gonna put a team together to deal with these types of investigation that takes place within the police department”

But Bradley scoffed at police optimism for a strong case.

Dickie Bradley
“I’ve never come to court for a client who the police noh claim we have strong evidence, wi wah win di case wen wi come to court and you all are the media. Just a couple days ago two men charged with a murder in Belize City walked off. Three, four days before that it happened again so we hear that story all the time. We heard that with Mr. Ralph Fonseca and Mr. Said Musa. Both ah dem there is no evidence at all, soh dat noh really mean anything.”

Meanwhile the incident has left the closely-knitted Chinese community in as much shock as the rest of Belize.

Lee Mark Chang, President, Belize Chinese Association
“This individual is one person and the not the entire community. The Chinese community is a community that works very hard, seven days a week and pretty much mind their own business and are law abiding citizens.”

Marion Ali
“But in this case, it was a Chinese against a Chinese man, some transaction gone bad”

Lee Mark Chang
“Well, I’m not too sure about that because it is all speculations, and yes, the image has been portrayed out there. We are also getting information but I cannot release that information yet but we will see what the police investigation reveals. I hope it doesn’t have an effect, one person that will bring down an entire community, but as I said if it is one person that they arrested, hopefully the justice system can make sure that the right persons are being charged for the crime. ”

Marion Ali
“Did it come as a shock to you all when you heard it on the news that a Chinese man put out a hit on a fellow Chinese, you ever hear of this on the news”

Lee Mark Chang
“It is a complete shock and when I heard about it, I sat down for a couple minutes and I didn’t know what to think.”

Reporting for News Five, Marion Ali.

A second charge of Abetment on Hill’s charge sheet was never brought against him. Hill is on remand and will go back to court on April twenty-seventh. Police also allege that money was passed on to Alvarez during the period when the plot was concocted, but they could not say whether Hill received any of that cash. In this unraveling story, police say more officers may be charged in connection with the crime. Meanwhile, the intended target Ye Bao You remains in hiding in Belize City.

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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