We continue our coverage from last night when we reported that former Government Minister, Rene Jaime Montero, is now wanted by Police for the crime of willful oppression. Sources have since contacted us saying that 74-year-old retired politician was seen trying to cross the border into Guatemala on Saturday, upon getting intel of his imminent arrest. The reports went further to say that Montero was in the company of another man traveling in a grey Toyota Hilux. It turns out that we were not the only ones who got that tip.
Chester Williams, Commissioner of Police: “That’s the information we receive as well and thats’ the reason why I don’t even believe that he’s out of the country but you’re saying that his attorney says that he is then his attorney can bring him in to us.”
And while both our newsroom and the Police Commissioner got the same tip on Montero’s attempt to leave the country, UDP Chairman, Senator Michael Peyrefitte has declared that the former UDP Minister, Rene Montero is in the United States. Peyrefittte says the wanted poster issued for Montero is meant to cause embarrassment and that the charge being levied against Montero is bogus. Peyrefitte says that Montero will hand himself over to police when he returns to the country.
Michael Peyrefitte, UDP Chairman: “I see an arrest warrant which was done clearly to just try and cause embarrassment and try to belittle the Honorable Rene Montero. I see they put up an arrest warrant with a description of the minister, you don’t know what Rene Montero looks like ? You don’t know where to find Minister Montero? I mean come on man. Even for a journalist you know that that is absolute nonsense and foolishness. Rene Montero called me from the United States yesterday and said that he’s there for medical purposes and as soon as he’s done with that he’s going to come right back and face some wilful oppression, some obscure charge in the criminal code that says that some time between 2016 and 2020 he committed willful oppression. They are so bogus, they are so silly that they cannot even specify what he has done. They cannot even specify what time he supposedly committed this willful oppression and you’re telling me that they must have evidence ? I am telling you they have no evidence. I am telling you that what this is about is for a reporter like you to be distracted and to ask me foolishness about a foolish situation. Let’s talk about the fact that Santa Familia is burning. Let’s talk about the fact that they still don’t have a handle on COVID. Let’s talk about the fact that we still don’t have a $5 minimum wage. 10% cut of people’s salaries an absolute mal administration that Johnny Briceno is presiding over so what they do every now and again is something like this to hopefully distract the public but the public will not be distracted because the public sees this for exactly what it is. If they wanted to charge Rene Montero from last week they could have simply called me as the Chairman of the Party they could have called Mr.Montero, they could have called anybody to say we have an arrest warrant for you we want you to come in and Mr.Montero would have gladly gone in but they chose to do it like this in the hopes that they could cause embarrassment and win some cheap political points but I can tell you something the Belizean people are looking right through this for what it is.”
Reporter: Did Mr. Montero Indicate that when he returns from the US he’ll hand himself over to police ?
Michael Peyrefitte, UDP Chairman: “What you mean ? He has to. He wants to. He’s dying to but he said he’s already there. Had he known then that there was an arrest warrant for him or a charge out for him then he would have immediately cancelled his trip and I would have taken him to the court and we would have looked at these charges, see what evidence they have, laugh at them, get bail and then prepare for trial.”
Reporter: So he had no idea that the warrant would be issued before leaving to the US.
Michael Peyrefitte, UDP Chairman: “We don’t hide from nothing. We don’t have any reason to hide. We gladly face it and Minister Montero cannot wait to come back to Belize to face these bogus charges and be done with them.”
As we noted in last night’s newscast, Montero has lawyered up with Attorney Orson Elrington. A statement from Elrington’s law office came in late last night indicating that this move to arrest Montero is merely a distraction from bigger national issues.
Orson “OJ” Elrington: “My client maintains that obviously the action to issue this warrant is malicious, it is unwarranted and it stinks of political mischief. In fact I believe multiple news outlets, multiple organizations will confirm and maybe Love FM too can confirm that in fact how the warrant was received is not through the Belize Police Department but it was through political operatives of the PUP they are the ones who started to disseminate this warrant. Furthermore to show you how unprecedented it is, how unwarranted it is and how much it stinks of political mischief we have seen way too many murders in Belize, way too many murders, way too many rapes and I have not on one instance seen a wanted poster for any of the accused in any of those offences and you can correct me if I’m wrong but I personally have never ever seen one. So you have a offence of course which my client treats with tremendous seriousness because it goes to the heart of his integrity. This is a man who is a three time area representative, a man who has been a public servant for decades. A man who holds his integrity to the highest possible standards and therefore he takes the allegations very seriously and he totally denies the allegations against him and he will defend those allegations against him.”
Montero was a government minister for 12 years under the Dean Barrow administration. His latter years in government saw him running the Ministry of Works.