BDF Lieutenant Gets Called to the Bar

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Updated: December 22, 2015

For the first time in the history of the Belize Defense Force, a serving officer has been called to the Bar.  Reporter Hipolito Novelo was in the courtroom of Justice Courtney Abel and has the story.

LT. LIONEL OLIVERA

“Well today for me is an overwhelming experience. I’m humbled by it, it’s a five year journey that has finally ended. I’ve seen the light at the end of the tunnel.”

HIPOLITO NOVELO REPORTING

“Lieutenant Lionel Olivera made history today by becoming the first serving member of the Belize Defense Force to be admitted to the Bar. Olivera has been a BDF soldier for the past eleven years but from practicing the laws of the jungle he will now practice the law of the land. He decided to do this…..”

LT. LIONEL OLIVERA

because we had an incident in the Belize Defense Force where one of our soldiers had shot someone and he ended up being charged by the court for manslaughter and I believe that the BDF could have done more in terms of assisting him so that struck a chord in me and I wondered why we didn’t do much more so  I decided then to send in my application and I was successful at that and so here I am now.”

HIPOLITO NOVELO REPORTING

“Lt. Olivera studied law at the Norman Manley Law School in Jamaica. For five years, he kept his nose in the books and focused in achieving his goal. The ceremony took place inside the courtroom of Justice Courtney Abel who said that after reading affidavit admitted from Senior Counsels, Simeon Sampson and Hubert Elrington, Olivera is fit and proper to practice law. There to support Olivera were his mother, his fellow roommates, soldiers and Commander of the BDF, Brigadier General David Jones.”

BRIG GEN DAVID JONES

This is a very proud moment for me and also for the Belize Defense force, not only proud very historic because it’s the first time that we’ve had a serving officer of the Belize Defense Force being called to the bar. So congratulation are in order to Lieutenant Olivera and his family and it’s a good day for the Belize Defense Force and it’s very good for our soldiers to have a practicing attorney so he can better guide us and not just the soldiers but also myself because never in history have we had a serving member of the force being a lawyer to guide and advise the commander of the Belize Defense Force who conducts all the trials for the soldiers ,it’s a first so he is better trained in legal issues and better trained in the law. I conduct the trials in accordance with the defense act and he is more familiar with it and can better advise me on how to conduct myself in the trials and how to be more impartial and provide more justice to our soldiers.”

LT. LIONEL OLIVERA

I am being embedded into the force as  Legal Adviser, we could do more for our soldiers who want to study law just like we’ve done for doctors or pilots this is a similar thing that we could do for our soldiers. I’m hoping that that could be the next step.”