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Jul 16, 2008

Detained Belizeans in Chetumal may face charges at home

Story PictureThere’s more bad news for the Belizean security guards and their employer detained in Chetumal for the weekend shoot-out at the Las Vegas casino at the northern border. There is still no official information regarding the incident from the Belize side and as Jose Sanchez found out, the guards are also in big trouble when they return to Belize.

Jose Sanchez
“It’s been four days since the shootout has occurred at the Las Vegas Casino. Neither the casino or family members have come to file a report at the Corozal Police Station.”

Jose Sanchez
“Is there anyone liaising with the families? Are you liaising with the families to let them know what’s happening?”

Insp. James Moreira, O.C., Corozal Police Station
“Not exactly.”

The situation is being handled by Melissa Dougal, employee and girlfriend of George Hardie Junior. The casino and Dougal have not been cooperative with the police

Araceli Rivas, Mother-In-Law of David Gomez
“What we heard last night that they were going to do their cases tomorrow.”

Jose Sanchez
“The on opportunity you had to speak to David, what did he have to say?”

Araceli Rivas
“We have not communicated with him. It’s only Mister Hardie’s wife/girl. She is the one that talk to him personally. We have a chance tomorrow that we can talk to David because the lawyer in Chetumal says we can’t talk to him until tomorrow.”

Jose Sanchez
“So at this point it’s the girlfriend of Mister Hardie, she is the only one that has had contact with these men?”

Araceli Rivas
“She is the on taking everything in their hands to see what they can do for them. She is the only one.”

The mother-in-law of David Gomez is appealing to the government and anyone who could help.

Araceli Rivas
“The government of Chetumal want to get in this problem with them and from the day that happened, just the night we were there in Chetumal they made me talk to him but from that we have no communication with him. We Belizeans, we need help for them because if this went so bad I think the government of Belize should help us in this problem because I think the Mexican government are doing too much for their people. So what about us? We need the help of the government to do something about this what is happening with these guys.”

Jose Sanchez
“How do you feel that Mister Chavez was fired in the middle of this?”

Araceli Rivas
“Mister Chavez, the night that this problem happened, Mister Chavez was right there trying to help like Belizeans. Las night in the news I heard that he was being fired from his job and we don’t have any other person that can help them in Chetumal because he was the ambassador there. He was the one trying to help but with this problem I don’t know what will happen because until right now I don’t know who is the next one that will take care of them in Chetumal.”

Inspector James Moreira, in charge of the Corozal police station said, that the area in which the shootout occurred is not a no man’s land.

Jose Sanchez
“Is the area between Chetumal and the Free Zone a no man’s land? Can you do whatever you want in that area?”

Insp. James Moreira
“That’s not a fact. That is Belizean territory.”

Jose Sanchez
“So, what exactly is the law?”

Insp. James Moreira
“The law of the land.”

Jose Sanchez
“If a Mexican came over to our side of the border and shot at Belizeans who supposedly were shooting at them on their side of the border, what would happen to that person, to that Mexican?”

Insp. James Moreira
“What happen is that we deal with the complaint, we investigate the matter and after conducting our investigation we look at it and of any charge is to be placed then we go ahead with it.”

Jose Sanchez
“Let’s just say that person came across the border that did not check in at the checkpoint and shot Belizeans. Would they be charged with anything? What would they be charged with?”

Insp. James Moreira
“As long as anything happens within the land of Belize, within the borders of Belize then we take action sir.”

Araceli Rivas
“What I know they just went to the border and what I know that they declared their arms when they were crossing the border. They told the ones from immigration that they were declaring their arms but Mister Hardie he says he didn’t know you know and he cross over the bridge and the soldiers out there, that was the one that hold him, hold all of them.”

Inspector Moriera says that bringing weapons over our side of our border can result in heavy fines and possible jail time and at the same time laws of both countries need to be respected.

Jose Sanchez
“If they came in illegally without checking at the border point, if they brought in weapons what would be the charge?”

Insp. James Moreira
“That’s an offense under the laws of Belize with the Firearm Act. Anybody caught with firearm, that you must have a license to have that firearm in your possession.”

Jose Sanchez
“Would that person face a prison term or just a fine?”

Insp. James Moreira
“The laws of Belize give you … it is interpreted that you can imprisoned and pay a fine not less than ten thousand dollars.”

Jose Sanchez
“Looking at the situation, the Belizeans and the American owner, they’re facing smuggling weapons into Mexico, illegal entry and attempted murder. How does that look from your perspective, being a law man, looking and dealing at the border itself?”

Insp. James Moreira
“Well, as I would say that every country has their laws and we must respect the laws of the land. That’s the same way if they enter into our country and they disrespect our authority then we must deal with it accordingly. The ones that crossed over the border there, on my side, as an investigator into the incident, they were wrong by entering the country with firearm.”

Even if the Belizeans were lucky to be exonerated of the charges in Mexico, they would still face charges in Belize.

Jose Sanchez
“You also have to look at the Belizean side at the casino. They shot at these men, probably in defence we’re hoping, but they also pursued them. Would they be facing any charges for shooting while pursuing these men on Belizean territory?”

Insp. James Moreira
“Most naturally. As I said, we are investigating the matter. As soon as we get everything together charges will also be made against them.”

Araceli Rivas
“Well, I really want to see what they can do for them, the government of Belize, because I think the Mexicans are really putting this into something very big and we need help. We need help for those guys you know.”

Tomorrow the families return to Chetumal to speak to their loved ones for the first time. Reporting for News Five, Jose Sanchez


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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