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Belize City, Belize Central America

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BSAG eight charged with murder of Ariel Audinette

The Professional Standards Branch continues its investigation into the death of 46-year-old Ariel Audinette. As we reported, Audinette was at his Orange Walk residence with three other friends when eight members of the Belize Special Assignment group forced their way into the house, reportedly looking for a cellular phone. But the men acted outside of proper procedures and brutally beat Audinette. His companions, Noe Sanchez and Oscar Payes were also beaten, while the fourth friend reportedly managed to flee. Audinette died at the hospital a few hours later. Payes remained hospitalized while Sanchez was treated and released. By Saturday, the eight men were charged with murder in the death of Ariel Audinette and attempted murder in relation to the injuries sustained by Oscar Payes. They are Bladimir Escaraga, Francis Sho, Patrick Villagran Sr, Edmar Petillo, Patrick Diego, Mateo Bolon, Elvis Cobb, Lennart Cajun. Seven of them are members of the BDF and the eighth is a member of the Belize Police Department, all assigned to BSAG. They were arraigned today at Orange Walk, under heavy police guard. Commander of the PSB, ACP Chester Williams spoke with the media.

ACP Chester Williams – Commander, PSB

“The eight individuals are expected to appear in Orange Walk Town Magistrate’s Court today to be arraigned on those charges.”

Reporter

“Investigators will also be speaking to other women who had filed a complaint with the officers before they went to that house? Has that happened? Does she face any charges?”

ACP Chester Williams – Commander, PSB

“We have met with the woman concerned and we have obtained a statement from her and in respect to your question the answer to that is no, at this time there is nothing to suggest that she was involved in any way in respect to what may have occurred at the home of Mr.Salazar.”

Reporter

“Any charges in respect to other individuals who were also beaten by the group?”

ACP Chester Williams – Commander, PSB

“Those are minor offences, I think one would be wounding and the the other one is harm so those will be dealt with summarily.”

Reporter

“Is there a strong case or does the evidence suggest strongly towards incriminating this group?”

ACP Chester Williams – Commander, PSB

“From the investigation we are fully satisfied that those persons who were arrested and charged are the ones who did the beat down and we are also satisfied with the evidence that we have. What happens in a court in a subsequent trial is not controlled by us and I will say that a case is only as good as the witnesses. Often times we have cases where the witnesses do not show up and once that is the case there is little or nothing that the officer or Director of Public Prosecution can do to be able to further the prosecution of that matter. So we are hoping that where this case is concerned that all those persons who are witnesses in the matter that they will appear in court and give their side of the story in respect to this matter so the court can make a determination on this matter”

Audinette died due to blunt force trauma. The beating he sustained broke his bones which then ruptured his kidneys and liver. In a release issued this afternoon, the People’s United Party is calling for the BSAG to be disbanded as it is a quote, “unnecessary and dangerous operational element,” end of quote. It goes on the say that the recent actions of a few “rogue” cops are a signal of the lack of leadership within the government, and once again calls for the removal of Commissioner of Police Allen Whylie. According to the PUP, if government fails to disband the BSAG, the PUP will do so when they are back in government.

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