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Aug 20, 1999

Lawyers criticize police behavior

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Again, the case that Salazar described so confidently in June had by August evaporated as quickly as yesterday’s rain. Today News Five canvassed the legal community and found few attorneys surprised. Bar Association President Fred Lumor says that at a recent meeting with the Acting Chief Justice, the D.P.P., Solicitor General and Deputy Police Commissioner the problem was discussed at length.

Fred Lumor, President, Belize Bar Association

“The focus turned onto the police and we all recognized the fact that all those backlog of cases is where the police are unable to solve these crimes and keep on getting adjournment of these cases in court hoping that they would be able to find the evidence to solve them.

Q: “Even the lay person out there knows that if you don’t have sufficient evidence against somebody, that case will eventually be thrown out. So why do they still proceed in this manner?”

Fred Lumor

“I think that somebody has to hold the police accountable because it is unbelievable. In my judgement from the facts available is that the first class detectives are not deployed in the crimes investigation branch. These are police officers who have received training locally and abroad and trained in crimes investigation but they are deployed to do other jobs in the districts and they are not centralized in the crimes investigation branch where they can utilize their expertise in solving these crimes.”

Kirk Anderson, attorney for released murder suspect Michael Williams says the police for too long have been allowed to arrest and then investigate.

Kirk Anderson, Attorney for Michael Williams

“If they feel that these are the proper persons it would be open for them to find sufficient evidence. But let them find sufficient evidence before they arrest and charge and speak so boldly about these people as killers because otherwise they run the risk of being sued for false imprisonment, malicious prosecution, assault, battery and also being sued for defamation of character.

We need to alert citizens need to take back the street from criminals and the true criminals need to be punished. The police should not lend themselves to wrong doing merely in an effort to appease the public.

My sympathy and I am sure the sympathy of many persons go out to the families of the deceased persons. It is not a nice thing to have to lose your children to a murderer or for any reason. I don’t want to be taken as not empathizing with those persons. I have a job to do; I have done it and I think I have done it properly in the traditions of the profession.”

Fred Lumor

“A proper police investigation would involve painstaking, discreet quiet investigation of these crimes. When we hear the police, they would have had all the evidence even before affecting arrest. So when they arrest the wrong person and have the wrong person in custody and start telling the public that they have arrested the right person, the criminal is out there laughing at the police and covering his tracks. And this is the result of it and we all recognize it.”

Lutchman Sooknandan, Attorney for Melvin Young says too often lawyers are blamed when suspects in high profile cases are released.

Lutchman Sooknandan, Attorney for Melvin Young

“The investigation from what I am observing is too sloppily done. I don’t know who to blame for that but certainly the police high command need to pay some attention to what they are doing. They want to blame lawyers and blame us for this kind of thing but then we have a job that is different. We assist the police as much as we can but then they have their job to do and we have our job to do too.”

Sooknandan says contrary to what was stated by inspector Salazar regarding HIV infection as a motive in Gordon’s murder, there does not exist any such evidence.

Lutchman Sooknandan

“One expects that it would be in some kind of statement or something because that was aired publicly. This statement is quite damaging and will give a false notion to the public at large. The fact is that there is no such evidence.”

Meanwhile sources tell News Five that Inspector Eli Salazar has been appointed to take over as Head of the Criminal Investigations Branch.


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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