Investigators are trying to establish the authenticity of screenshot text messages allegedly sent between two members of the Special Assignment Team, SAT. The explosive messages suggest a hit list and that 38-year-old Fareed Ahmad was assassinated, which the family strongly believes is the case. However, in this day and age, almost anything can be falsified. In fact, there is an online application which anyone can use to generate false text messages. In order to verify that these messages were indeed sent, the Head of the Professional Standard Branch, ACP Chester Williams, is working on obtaining phone records, while reviewing more of the text messages allegedly sent between two SAT members. Those text messages have been forwarded to Prime Minister Dean Barrow who expressed his utmost confidence in Williams’ investigative skills.
DEAN BARROW, PRIME MINISTER OF BELIZE
“Yes, I have seen some text messages, the authenticity of which is being questioned. I spoke personally to Chester Williams who is in charge of the investigation and he was very very concerned about the text messages and certainly is determined to get to the bottom of that issue. Just today he provided me with examples of the apps that can be used to create fake text messages and so in his view really until we are able to get some sort of a court order that would allow an examination of the relevant appropriate telephone records he has to suspend judgment and I think that is the position that certainly I have to be guided by. Chester is in no doubt in my mind absolutely determined to do a comprehensive investigation, he is determined for there not to be any slip-ups, he’s determined not to cover over anything and so I am satisfied that we are in good hands with respect to his custody of the investigation.”
The family has asked for Barrow to intervene and order an independent investigation into Ahmed’s murder and the allegations that they have been under surveillance for quite some time.
ELODIO ARAGON JR., MINISTER OF STATE RESPONSIBLE FOR HOME AFFAIRS
“I want to assure the general public, I want to assure the family of Mr. Ahmad of the Police department is doing a proper investigation in this. There are two investigations taking place right now; One is the criminal aspect of this investigation in terms of the murder of Mr. Ahmad and secondly, there is an internal investigation in dealing with the allegations that are out there because at the end of the day the department must act upon facts. We must act upon things that we want to ensure we try to discover anything that is out there. We want to find the truth at the end of the day and that is why we conduct an investigation to see if there is a cause and if there is cause then who is criminally liable etc. I want you all to know that these investigations are ongoing but the Police must rely on factual evidence and that is why the weapon and the expended shells are in the forensic department right now. The investigation from the professional standard branch is underway because all these allegations have to be looked into because at the end of the day we want to reach to the truth of the matter and I will assure the public that that is being done. The honorable member of Orange Walk Central talks about maybe the investigation needs to be done by someone else, well the Police department in this country is charged with carrying out these investigations and I am confident at least the Police department has the wear it all to do a proper investigation in this and I want to assure the public that there is no cover up in this because not under my watch will we ever have a cover up in terms of murder etc. Never whatsoever and I want to make that clear but like I said the police must operate on what is factual and on evidence. There are things out there maybe you don’t know about email, text etc. These are things that we have to ensure; right now we have already asked the DPP office to acquire for us the permission for us to get the BTL records to confirm these things. There’s a lot of things are taking place right now, a lot of things that have been done and a lot of follow up work that the department is doing to ensure that we carry out a proper relentless investigation to ensure that we bring justice for the family of Ahmad and to ensure that we keep the department name as clean as possible.”
The woman charged with allegedly murdering Ahmad is 24-year-old Michelle Brown, a woman police constable attached to the Special Assignment Team. She was in Ahmad’s vehicle when he was shot to the head and crashed. The family has linked her involvement to an alleged hit placed on Ahmad. However, the Substantial Minister of Home Affairs, Wilfred Elrington, says that the incident is not a ‘police matter’.
WILFRED ELRINGTON, SUBSTANTIVE MINISTER FOR HOME AFFAIRS
“Madam Speaker I don’t think it is neither fair nor proper to conflate the fact the young lady is a Police officer with that murder. In other words with that killing whatever it is because we really don’t know, she happens to be a Police Officer but my information is that at the time of the incident she was not working; she was off duty. And I listen to the radio and the TV and I listen to people going off and excoriating Police but there is no evidence that this is a Police issue. She just happens to be the Police; I don’t know whether members of the other side can take that point but, that’s a fine point but its a very relative point. Very relevant point. She was not on duty and let me say this Madam Speaker with the greatest of respect. This is the only chamber in the world where the people’s representative has the right to speak. The only one and historically I have sought to be very measured and limited in my intervention but issues are coming up that have provoked my tongue and I find it difficult to restrain myself.”
While Brown was off duty when the incident occurred, we point out that she was still in uniform. The Belize Police Department issued a press release stating that investigators are following all possible leads in the case. The department requested a ballistic examination of the two expended shells recovered from Ahmad’s vehicle to the National Forensic Science Services. It has also requested access to telephone records for those key in the investigation. The department added that investigators have unearthed no evidence that proves that Fareed Ahmad’s death was a “state-ordered” execution.