Bladen 12 Trial Adjourned to Next Week
After being fingered for facilitating a drug plane landing, they have been dubbed the Bladen 12. The group is made of four police officers, who have since been dismissed from the Police Department, and 8 civilians. They stand accused of facilitating the landing of a plane carrying some 20 bales of cocaine back in November 2021. The men’s five defence attorneys appeared before Senior Magistrate Baja Shoman today to kick off their trial. Oscar Selgado, attorney for four of the accused, explained that the court had several preliminary matters to address before the trial could get started, and ultimately the case was adjourned until next week. Those matters include a number of caution statements being challenged by several of the accused. Selgado says that the court has earmarked two weeks to complete the trial.
Oscar Selgado, Attorney: “The court has asked from certain defense attorneys whether or not we will start with a voir dire because two caution statements were solicited and were granted from two defendants so I believe we will start with a voir dire to see whether or not those caution statements would be admitted into evidence. We look at two working weeks. I have agreed of the sixty witnesses I personally have agreed to all less thirteen so I’m agreeing to like forty seven thereabout witnesses because the evidence of those other witnesses or the statements from those other witnesses does not affect my four clients that represent. This will be a very difficult trial for the magistrate and for the prosecutor because while it is that I have agreed to forty seven statements to be read in the other attorneys will not necessarily agree to those same witnesses because the evidence is different or the statements are different, the evidence will affect each client, each defendant differently. While it will not affect my four clients it may have impacts on the clients represented by Mr.Bradley, or Mr.Banner or Mr.Jones and so they will not necessarily agree to those same statements so it will be a long drawn out trial.”
With all that said, it does beg the question whether two weeks is a practical timeline for a trial that will see the testimony of over sixty witnesses who will be cross-examined by five different attorneys? That’s the question posed to Selgado.
Oscar Selgado, Attorney:“The learned magistrate had initially given one month from the 29th of January to the 29th of February for this trial but unforeseen circumstances came about and we are now down to as long as it takes, the court cannot say we must complete it within a given window but as long as it takes justice must be done and if it takes two months that is what justice requires then the defendants will be given a fair trial. I was prepared to start this trial today but the prosecution has indicated to the court that there are two statements given under caution from two separate defendants and it is up to the attorneys for those defendants having taken instruction from those defendants whether or not those statements will be admitted. So a voir dire will have to be held or would normally be held if the defendants are saying those statements were not taken from me voluntarily.”
The trial continues on Monday, February 12. The defendants 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. They are charged with two counts of possession of controlled drugs with intent to supply, one count of conspiracy to land a plane at an unlicensed aerodrome, and one count of abetment of the importation of controlled drugs. Alifa Elrington is prosecuting the case.