Seven BDF soldiers and one police officer, members of the Belize Special Assignment Group BSAG were charged for the murder of Ariel Salazar and the attempted murder of Oscar Payes. They busted into the men’s home for a cell phone in February. 21 year-old Bladimir Escaraga; 23 year-old Francis Sho; 31 year-old Patrick Villagran Sr.; 26 year-old Edmar Petillo; 26 year-old Patrick Diego; 28 year-old Mateo Bolon; 33 year-old Elvis Cobb and 29 year-old Lennart Cajun were remanded but became free men when Senior Magistrate Michelle Arana threw the case out yesterday because the case file was not ready. The senior Magistrate refused to grant an adjournment and set the men free. Minister of Police Elodio Aragon, said it was an issue with the courts and not because of any missing files as has been previously reported.
Minister of Police Elodio Aragon: “The Magistrate that was there made that decision to withdraw the case because they were saying the case file was not ready but that is why today I spoke about the Judiciary. We must improve upon what is happening in the judiciary. I mean we have cases that have been out there for seven eight years that have been adjourned, adjourned and yet this case doesn’t even have six months and has been withdrawn. These are the kinds of disparities I would like to see improved upon within our Judiciary but one thing I would like to tell you from what I have gotten to understand the Police Department will bring back these charges and I think that should be done before the day is out today if not by tomorrow but definitely these people, these law enforcement personnel will be taken to court again.”
Jose Sanchez: “The method of handling case files over the years it’s been a while since we hear case files missing as method of where charges against Police officers or criminals have been dropped is that something that you are going to looking at how to just lock down these files?”
Minister of Police Elodio Aragon: “Well no file has been missing you know please I don’t want you to get us wrong here, no file is missing. There is a process in terms of criminal investigation: one the Police Department puts the case file together, the case file is sent to the DPP Office. The Dpp office peruses this case file, makes recommendations and that file is sent back to the Police for whatever further instructions from the DPP and that is what is taking place right now and from what I understand the case file just came back with further directions from the DPP Office for Police officers to do which will enable to straighten that case but for the case to be withdrawn but I mean at the end of the day the Magistrate made that decision and I guess you will have to ask her why that was made but what I can tell you is that these people will be taken back to court.”