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Dec 22, 2008

Soldiers charged for possession of 1,340 rounds of ammo

Story PictureTwo B.D.F. soldiers are in the hot seat tonight facing investigations by their own and the police. The two were busted with over a thousand rounds of ammunition over the weekend. Thirty year old Sergeant Emerson Michael and twenty-nine year old Corporal Henry Williams were charged with Keeping Ammunition without a Gun License when they appeared today in Magistrates’ Court. The prosecution objected to bail on the grounds that the amendment to the Firearms Act precludes the court from offering bail. Attorney Dickie Bradley who represented Michael and Williams, argued that the Fire arms act does not apply to military men. Bradley claimed that at about eight-thirty p.m. Friday night, Michael and Williams were in B.D.F. uniform when they were initially stopped and harassed by the police at a checkpoint at the junction of Vista Del Mar and the Northern Highway. And when they were taken to the police station, they were forced to change into civilian clothes. Magistrate Edd P. Usher didn’t buy Bradley’s argument and upheld the objection to bail. He remanded the soldiers into custody until January twenty-sixth, 2009. But that is not the end of the tale for Sergeant Michael and Corporal Williams. The B.D.F. is also launching its own investigation into the incident. Lieutenant Colonel Javier Castellanos says that they are looking closely at their own security measures.

Lieutenant Colonel Javier Castellanos
“Well, as you are aware and as mentioned, this case came to our attention on Friday when the police detained our officers Friday night with suspected—it was confirmed it was ammunition. They conducted a routine check point and two members of the B.D.F. were found in possession of ammunition and they were taken to eastern division for questioning and after the questioning both of the members of the B.D.F., as you are aware, have been arrested and charged for the various counts as mentioned earlier.”

Jose Sanchez
“How much ammunition are we talking about? What type?”

Lt. Col. Javier Castellanos
“It is five point five-six millimeter; that’s the caliber of the ammunition and the amount in their possession was one thousand three hundred and forty rounds.”

Jose Sanchez
“And this was taken from the B.D.F. headquarters here at Price Barracks?”

Lt. Col. Javier Castellanos
“The ammunition has been confirmed that, yes it belongs to the Belize Defence Force. As part of the investigation, we are also conducting our investigation other than the police as to the exact location was taken from. But yes, we acknowledge that the ammunition is property of the Belize Defence Force and the government of Belize.”

Jose Sanchez
“Does this incident, along with the cases of grenades that may or may not have come from through the B.D.F., make you look more and more at the sort of mechanisms you have in place in regards to safety?”

Lt. Col. Javier Castellanos
“Well, our internal investigation ongoing at this moment is to find out where the breech in security has occurred. It appears that there may be a breech of security in how we have properly accounted for the ammunition. But the results of the investigation will confirm exactly where we’re had that.”

Jose Sanchez
“At this point do you know if this has happened before or you can’t confirm that?”

Lt. Col. Javier Castellanos
“At this moment, from what we know and what we have recorded, this is one of the first incidents.”

Lieutenant Colonel Castellanos says that the ammunition is widely used in automatic weapons such as M-sixteen rifles.

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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