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Oct 19, 2023

Teflon Nah?

Today, the Magistrate’s Court found former police corporal, Elmer Nah not guilty of possession of a cache of firearms, ammunition and bulletproof vests. He was intercepted on the night of November sixth, along with his common-law-wife, Epifania Caliz, and her brother, former Police Constable Manuel Caliz, in a vehicle on the Southern Highway. But Senior Magistrate Baja Shoman found that Nah and his co-defendants were not guilty of the charges. In the case of the Caliz siblings, they had no knowledge of the guns and vests and were mere occupants of the vehicle. In the case of Nah, the court found that he was returning the items to another officer, Corporal Richard Arnold who had previously signed the weapons out and left them in the vehicle which Nah was driving that particular night, hence he asked Nah to return the items to him in Belmopan. Nah’s interception came on the night of a drug plane landing on the Southern Highway near Bladen Village. In connection with that incident, several persons, including Nah and four other police officers, were charged for facilitating the landing of the plane. News Five’s Marion Ali was in court today and filed the following report.  


Marion Ali, Reporting

Not guilty. That was the verdict for former Police Corporal, thirty-nine-year-old Elmer Nah, his common-law-wife, Epifania Caliz and her brother, former Police Constable Manuel Caliz. The case that was concluded today was one in which the three were charged with kept unlicensed firearm and ammunition and bulletproof vests that were found during a search of a vehicle that they were traveling in on the night of November sixth, 2021 on the Southern Highway. The senior magistrate found that Nah was protected under Section Thirty-three of the laws of Belize. Following the outcome of the verdict, the prosecutor, Head of the Prosecution Branch, Alifa Elrington shared why she did not agree with the ruling.


Alifa Elrington

Alifa Elrington, Head, Prosecution Branch

“The court, having found that he got called for to report to duty still, in my opinion, does not come under Section 33, which would then have allowed him to be in possession of ammunition that was not assigned to him by virtue the Belize Police Department or by virtue of law. Section 33 is specific that you are in possession of a firearm if you’re going to be doing your duty. At that point, that he had initially been in possession of a firearm and the evidence that came out that he, when he found out that he was in possession of a firearm, he was not on duty and he was not on duty with firearm or ammunition that was assigned to him, separate and apart from a nine millimeter firearm that he was not charged for under the circumstances.”


The defense attorney for the three accused, Dickie Bradley, said he is not surprised by the verdict.


Dickie Bradley

Dickie Bradley, Attorney for Elmer Nah

“We are not at all surprised that a court of law, once again in our country, has shown that you can get justice. The police were wrong from the get-go to charge all three persons and have them subjected to what they were subjected to. You all know that when they charge you for ammunition and firearms, you automatically go to jail. The time has come for that law to be amended. If the police make you sign out for the gun or no sign out, that is an internal matter. We’re talking about a criminal charge that will land you in jail for a minimum of five years. There are two different things. I’m sorry that they don’t pick that up. I’m sorry they don’t pick that up. How many innocent people are facing charges when there is no crime that has been committed.”


Elrington and Bradley had different interpretations of what Section Thirty-three provides for.


Alifa Elrington

“As far as I am concerned, the law – the way that the Firearms Act is written, the court – it is required that the Crown proves that you are in possession. Hence the reason we see so many people arrested and at some point in time, in relation to guns found and ammunition found in homes and we go through the process. I don’t believe that I have to prove knowledge. The way the legislation is written, the evidential burden switches over to the defense and the defense must prove or must give a lawful excuse for being in possession of a firearm.”


Dickie Bradley

“There is a procedure, according to a witness that came to court in this case, to say things which are not accurate in law. He can’t give nobody permission to have firearms or equipment. What they are trying to say is that no police officer can have ammunition or gun or bulletproof vest. That is what they are trying to say when they tell you. The armourer is required to keep account: so much bullet gun to so much officers, so much kind of going go to so much officers. That is internal man that have nothing to do with a criminal charge. It means right, right now every officer that have a gun can be in trouble. Every officer that have a bullet in his pocket can be in trouble. It can’t mean that man.”


Elrington said she is considering appealing the ruling. Marion Ali for News Five.

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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