Attorneys for the Bladen 12 challenging witness statements in drug plane trial
Attorneys for the Bladen 12, the group accused of facilitating a drug plane landing back in 2021, are challenging two statements admitted into evidence. The group, consisting of four former police officers, and eight civilians appeared today before Senior Magistrate Baja Shoman along with four defence attorneys. Prosecutor Alifa Elrington came with a list of ten witnesses including the investigating officer, but that was placed on hold when Magistrate Shoman decided that a voir dire (trial within a trial) should come first. Attorney for several of the accused, Richard “Dicke” Bradley, said that the validity of the statements has to be challenged because police allegedly got those statements by beating up the defendants.
Richard “Dickie” Bradley, Attorney: “Now in the course of this particular trial there are at least two persons who were detained prior to being arrested. One of those persons as has already emerged in the Belmopan Magistrate Court in front of a Magistrate who has a master’s degree in the Law Ed Usher that in fact persons were severely beaten. I mean, when I tell you beaten, if you hear them describe and show you their bruises, you know, this is really a sad situation. I imagine police officers will get carried away to hear there’s a drug plane and drugs are all over the place everybody want find a pack or bale you know ? And you catch somebody who supposedly knows where they are hiding the drug they’ll take a beating. They were severely beaten and as a consequence, one of them gave a statement which, for me, it’s not a big deal but when you are defending a person you can’t take any chance because this is a trial that will land any convicted person a lot of time in jail. This is a serious matter. Bringing in drug-plane into this country and assisting to bring in cocaine is a serious matter. So, as a result of that, lawyers have an obligation to the court, to the trial and of course to their client that you would challenge that statement rather than allow it to just go along with other statements. You can’t allow a person who has been forced, beaten to say certain things in writing to just let that go in, that would be unfair. So that is the process. The view of the trial magistrate, Senior Magistrate Baja Shoman is that she would want to do the voir dire for any statement that will be challenged on how it was obtained? The actual written law and hundreds of case law do not allow any person who has been threatened, induced, promise something, beaten coerced, whatever words that what they have written is just not going to be allowed in a trial.”
Bradley also said that, despite his many years of practicing law, he has never been part of a case this size. He said that the number of witnesses being called by the prosecution could be counter-productive to the process.
Richard “Dickie” Bradley, Attorney: “I have been in trials where they cut off people’s head, I’ve been in trials where more than one persons have been murdered. I’ve been in all kinds of trials until my hair has changed its color and I’ve never been in a trial with seventy eight witnesses, sixty of whom are going to be called. Give me a break you’re going to call sixty persons to come in to the Magistrate Court to be cross examined by four attorneys ? You know what risk you’re taking when you do that? You know what happens when one witness starts to contradict a next one ? When one witness says “Oh this is what I saw.” and the next one was there and didn’t see that ? Do you know the real risk that you’re taking ? The role of a prosecutor in law is that the prosecutor is – listen to the term that the law uses “is a minister of justice.” Their job is to take the investigating file and to extract out evidence that is relevant to the trial and use that evidence. Don’t come and use the court to be calling witnesses over and over and over again to say the same thing. This is not like you know I think I probably said it already but this is not like focusing on quantity this is the quality of evidence.”
The prosecution requested, and was granted, an adjournment to prepare for the voir dire. The trial continues on Wednesday, as two of the attorneys have other matters before the High Court tomorrow. The defendants in the case are Armando Martinez, Moises Adan Perez, Juan Esparza Sanchez, Heinrich Redecop, Johan Wall, Fredy Orlando Gongora, Delwin Casimiro, Nelson Middleton, George Ferguson, Elmer Nah, Adonis Campos, and Efrain Cano.