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Jan 15, 1998

Attorney says no evidence to arrest clients for murder

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When they were being continuously detained by police they told the media that it was a case of official harassment. Now that they have been formally charged with the hit and run murder of an officer, the four men and their supporters have become even more vocal in their criticism of police. This morning I was part of the crowd at the magistrates court.

The atmosphere outside Paslow Building was tense and emotional. The families and friends of Salvador and David Lazaro, Rigoberto Palma and Martin Oliver had gathered at the compound to await the arrival of their sons and brothers. The young men, who arrived handcuffed and under heavy police guard are charged with intentionally running over P.C Levi Spain on East Collet Canal, as the off duty officer rode home on his bicycle in the early morning of December fourteenth. But as the accused made their way upstairs to Magistrates court to answer to the charges of Murder and Conspiracy, their supporters and Attorney Kirk Anderson, adamantly denied the charges.

Jose Lazaro, Brother

“From the moment in 1997, that they took my brothers right, they had nothing. They just picked them up and say they will be questioned, questioned them and up to now in 1998, from all of that time how can police charge them. They are looking for a two door sports car right? My brother has a Maxima, a blue car, the color of my shirt. How can they relate that to the red car.

I know my brothers, my brothers didn’t kill nobody man. This is a man speaking, this is no emotion, the innocent people will pay for it. I am saying that Belize must stand up for them, then they will stop using we. In Belize right now, the police will just tell you that you are this and that, and if you are innocent, you can’t fight them. If you fight with them, they will charge you even more worse.

Kirk Anderson, Attorney for the Accused

Do you believe that the police have any kind of overwhelming evidence against your clients? Overwhelming, overwhelming…they will be lucky if they have a scintilla of evidence.

Since the death of P.C. Spain, police said they were looking for a small sports red car, which was described by eyewitnesses as the one which hit the officer. Today, however, the police claim that their witnesses may have been mistaken a light blue car for red that early Sunday morning. But according to attorney, Kirk Anderson, not only is that assumption preposterous, but during a reenactment at the scene of the accident, the police’s two witnesses could not even identify his clients vehicle.

Kirk Anderson

And in fact I can tell you that officer Orio specifically told me, that was just two or three days ago that he did not feel that there was sufficient evidence against any of my clients. What about this purported evidence of finding hair underneath the vehicle? If they found hair underneath the vehicle and Mr. Orio said they did, Orio is the one that told me they appeared to be dog hairs, nothing more than dog hair. According to Commissioner Ornel Brooks, they apparently have other forensic evidence against the Lazaro brothers? Well, we await to what is the nature of that forensic evidence. I can’t see what sort of evidence it can be. it certainly can’t be any blood on vehicle, they certainly don’t have any evidence to indicate that the vehicles’ color was changed.

The men appeared in Court room number one before Chief Magistrate Herbert Lord. After reading their charges, Lord denied the men bail saying that although the prosecution did not give any evidence as to why they should not be released, he believes that for the police to have brought a charge of murder, the authorities must have some evidence to back up the indictment. But according to Anderson, he believes his clients should not have been remanded, because he feels at this time that the police do not have any

evidence or even no evidence at all against the four young men.

Kirk Anderson

I feel that as far as I know, the police is looking for a red vehicle, a red sports car. My clients’ vehicle is light blue, very light blue, also gray, not even a sports car. There is no evidence that it suffered any damage recently or been involved in an accident quite recently. there is no evidence that the color has been changed in anyway recently. Witnesses have been called to identify the vehicle that this is the vehicle involved in the accident and two witnesses have said this vehicle is not the vehicle that was involved.

Herman Lazaro, Father, Lazaro brothers

It is a disadvantage what they are doing with my sons them. Because my sons really I can prove that they are innocent about these things what they are doing.

They are innocent. I could put my neck to the block that they are innocent you see they are really innocent.

Anderson says the prosecution should rethink its case and that the time has come where persons who are found overwhelmingly innocent by a court of law, should be able to recover their legal costs.

The Lazaro brothers, Palma and Oliver will return to court on January 30th.

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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