The Belize Peace Movement (BPM) is making demands to the Government for a full independent investigation into Thursday’s incident that claimed the lives of the four BDF soldiers. Via a release, the BPM is demanding that a public Independent Commission of Inquiry be conducted and that a terms of reference be established to empower the commission to (1) Conduct all it’s hearing in public (2) Subpoena all necessary records and documents (3) Summon any witness it deems necessary (4) Take sworn evidence under oath; and (5) Be made up of three persons and be led by a Judge of the Supreme Court. Members other than the Judge shall be either a retired officer of the BDF; a pilot or an aircraft mechanic. Retired Major Lloyd Jones spoke to Love News on behalf of the BPM.
Retired Major Lloyd Jones, Belize Peace Movement Spokesperson: “Our concerns were heightened when we saw the Ministry’s press conference. That press conference in our view created more questions as to what could have happened to cause the loss of the aircraft. We have very little confidence in the Ministry’s ability to carry out a thorough and fair investigation and so we are of the view that the Honorable Prime Minister should in fact call for an independent commission of inquiry. There is an Act called the Commissions of Inquiries Act that empowers the Prime Minister to commission and inquiry whenever he believes that it serves the public interest and we believe that this is one such instance that he ought to declare an independent commission of inquiry. If I recall correctly Admiral Borland had mentioned that there were going to be three parallel investigations; first an internal investigation and then there would be an air accident investigation and possibly a criminal investigation by the police. We don’t believe that any of those things would in any way take away from this independent commission of inquiry that we are calling for, in fact if you look at the composition of the inquiry we’re asking for this commission to be headed by a judge of the Supreme Court. When you look at particularly the Senate Select Committee that we still have not received the report for as yet, when you look at the behavior of the witness before that commission we don’t want to see a repeat of that and that is why we’re asking for a judge to head this commission because we think that that judge is going to get the kind of respect that the commission deserves and the investigation is going to be thorough and that is what I think we call need to understand fully what really happened with this aircraft so that the families can get closure but also those of us who are concerned as Belizeans will also get closure.”
According to the BPM, they are making this request because they have no confidence that the investigations ordered by the Ministry of National Security will be impartial, thorough and without political influence. The release notes, that the BPM is fortified in this view by the press conference held by the Ministry of National Security which was dominated by the Minister and his CEO.
Retired Major Lloyd Jones, Belize Peace Movement Spokesperson: “ I think that when we look at the press conference for example and we saw how the Minister was dominating the conference, not giving the commander of the BDF who is ultimately responsible for what happened the opportunity to be able to explain to the Belizean people thoroughly what happened they were always butting in and this is kind of what happens sometimes when you have these disciplined organizations they allow the political leadership to take over and if you don’t have the moral courage to stand up and speak on your own behalf but also remember that they work for us as citizens and they have a duty to us to be open, to be fair, to be honest. I don’t think we’re going to get that from this inquiry and besides the release put out by the Ministry just a few minutes ago speaks about three days for an initial report and fourteen days for the final report. I don’t know what kind of inquiry that is going to be. My understanding, and I’ve looked at several other reports concerning air accidents involving helicopters and those reports take the shortest one I was able to find was nine months and some of them all the way up to two years. So I can’t understand what kind of inquiry they are going to be conducting if they believe that they can do this in fourteen days.”
The BPM went on to note that Friday’s press conference left more questions than answers and they do not believe that the investigative mechanism put forward by the Ministry would allow for the complete, balanced and transparent inquiry into this national disaster.