Prime Minister Finds Judge’s Decision Disturbing in Fugitive’s Case

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Updated: November 30, 2015

Authorities in Belize are still trying to locate Dave Nanes Schnitzer. Nanes is wanted in Mexico and police here managed to arrest him on Ambergris Caye. He is also the man who managed to slip away and subsequently avoid extradition. Today, his whereabouts are not known and the Mexican government is not happy with Belize. Nanes is accused of defrauding Mexicans of millions of dollars. He is also the man who managed to get his hands on nearly every single identification card in Belize- including driver’s license, social security card and a boat operator’s license. He was arrested and his nationality revoked but after Judge Dennis Hanomansingh, heard his bail application and decided to grant him bail at a sum of ten thousand dollars, authorities have not seen Nanes. Prime Minister Dean Barrow, shared his views on the Nanes Case.

DEAN BARROW

“We would have loved to simply send him across to Mexico but we have due process; we have legal requirements that we must follow and in the course of trying to comply with due process, he was taken before the court, the courts gave him bail. I have my own views about that determination of the courts but you know, in this country we respect judges and so that is what it was.  He was charged for whatever he was charged with; the court gave him bail; the police immediately charged him again and the judge gave him bail right away again. I find that very unusual; I find that strange, I find that very disturbing but I am not going to go further because I don’t want to be accused of contempt of court or casting any aspersions but I can say I found that very strange.  It means then that if we had come with our charges, he would have been given bail again.  Very, very worrying but no doubt, the judge who heard the bail application and made his decision, knows why he granted bail.”

Mexican authorities are not happy that one of the most wanted men in their countries managed to so easy evade extradition. However, Barrow says that he has no regret that proper procedures were followed.

DEAN BARROW

“Indeed, they had, as I am being informed, sent a request for his extradition. It now turns out that while there is an extradition agreement between Belize and Mexico, it was never acted upon, it was never brought into force here in Belize and so that meant that we couldn’t keep him on the basis of any extradition warrant. The Mexicans are very upset, understandably so, but we have to follow our rules and requirements, we have to follow due process as I said, we have to comply with our laws. I very much regret that we were not able to simply ship him out to the Mexicans but I do not regret the fact that we chose to follow the law even at the risk of offending our best neighbor we chose to be true to our culture, our legal requirements, our democracy.”

LOCAL REPORTER

“Sir, there has been an issue raised that because this man is such an  infamous figure, Belizean authorities ought to have been running surveillance on him, immediately after he was given bail.”

DEAN BARROW

“You would have to ask the police about that.  It was my understanding that was supposed to have been done.  You really have to find out from them how he had been able to give them the slip.  I’m not yet briefed on that but you’re perfectly correct; that was the instruction because we would have found some other charge or some other basis under law to detain him again but he obviously gave the police the slip.”

Barrow says that there is an ongoing investigation in the matter.

DEAN BARROW

“When there are things that make clear that there is obviously a level of collusion not to say corruption on the part of public servants, I don’t mean just civil servants I’m talking about everybody in the public service including Ministers when anything happens that demonstrates that things can be done to circumvent the law in consequence of the collusion of persons in authority that is very distressing, it is very upsetting. Of course we are never going to have pure society but it is still, it leaves me extremely distraught.”

LOCAL REPORTER

“Will there be any investigation?”

DEAN BARROW

“There is already an investigation. Remember he had nationality and that was revoked. That’s another thing that again in terms of following the law if we had simply revoked the nationality and handed him across but the law requires that we publish notice of the revocation. Look, while a lot of things went wrong initially, leading to, for example, the issuing of nationality when as I understand it he didn’t properly qualify, in the end, what prevented us from simply handing this man across is our determination to follow the law and I repeat once the Minister signs the revocation order you might well ask, “Why not simply hand him across?” because the law says you must publish it in the gazette, you must serve notice on him and that is what caused time to elapse which permitted his going before the courts and getting bail from the judge.”

LOCAL REPORTER

“Is there any investigation going on as to finding out he got the nationality?”

DEAN BARROW

“We know how he got it,that is why the Minister revoked it because the Minister was able to determine that in fact it was improperly had, that documentation put forward in support of the nationality application was fraudulent. I am sure that every effort will be made to bring before the Public Service’s Commission, whomever might have been responsible for processing, approving, presumably knowingly that false documentation.”

We are not sure if authorities were keeping an eye on Nanes after he was released on bail.