Tonight, there are mixed reports on whether the criminal investigation against the former Minister of National Security, John Saldivar has begun. According to Saldivar’s recently appointed successor, Michael Peyrefitte, the investigation has started but Police Commissioner is saying otherwise. We spoke with the Commissioner Chester Williams earlier today who says there is no investigation but that when it does begin, the former head of Special Branch, Marco Vidal will lead the investigating team.
Chester Williams, Commissioner of Police: “If it is that I have to investigate my mother the oath of office that I took compels me to investigate my mother. So if I can investigate my mother why won’t I be able to investigate my former boss?”
Reporter: Will the officer be able to ?
Chester Williams, Commissioner of Police: “I am sure and for record that officer is going to be Assistant Commissioner Marco Vidal. So I have said to him that he will be the one to lead that investigation as soon as we have obtained the relevant documents that we need. There are several things that must be done as I’ve said before, it is not a fly by night thing, there are things that we need to obtain in order to trigger the investigation. From what I have been made to understand the matter is still ongoing in the Utah court, a final determination has not been made of the matter. So once the final determination has been made we are going to request the transcript of the case through the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty that we have with the US and along with other things that were exhibited in court as evidence. So if it is that we can get those or whenever we get those then we’ll be able to further the investigation more. I have identified an officer who is going to lead that investigation and I have explained to him what the scope of the investigation is going to be so it’s just a matter for us to get the relevant documents that we need and then we can proceed further with that investigation. If it is at the end of the investigation the file will have to be sent to the DPP to see whether or not a crime has been committed because remember an investigation is not only to show that a crime was committed but it can also show that a crime was not committed. So investigations can also be done to exculpate somebody and not only to show that the person is guilty of having committed a crime.”
That interview was done today. Yesterday when we spoke with Peyrefitte, he said that the investigation has started. Here is how that interview went.
Michael Peyrefitte, Attorney General and Minister of National Security: “What do you mean call for it, it has already been called. It’s taking place as we speak I can tell you that as the Minister of National Security.”
Reporter: Independent I guess it would mean not formed by the government.
Michael Peyrefitte, Attorney General and Minister of National Security: “Appoint who? Johnny Briceno, Said Musa and who else Julius Espat?”
Reporter: An international body.
Michael Peyrefitte, Attorney General and Minister of National Security: “We have- appointing an international body is indicating that we have no confidence in our local authorities. I have every confidence in our local authorities. I met with the different section chiefs, Compol, Head of Coast Guard, BDF and I can tell you outstanding Belizeans who have nothing but the best interest of Belize at heart. If they are to carry out an investigation I trust that it will be as good if not better than what any other international supposedly better can do.”
Reporter: What about the timeline in terms of finishing that investigation.
Michael Peyrefitte, Attorney General and Minister of National Security: “Well it will take as long as it has to take, it will take as short as it has to take but investigations don’t happen quickly like that from my experience they will do what they have to do and when the time is right for them to take action they will if any.”
John Saldivar received thousands of dollars from Dermen. In one instance he was given as much as one hundred thousand dollars. The questions arising are how he got the money into the country without clearance and what did he do in return. The clamoring of an investigation came in mid-January when we broke the story with documents from the Lev Dermen case in Salt Lake City, Utah. At that time, there was no mention of which Government official was involved, only that the official had received monthly payments of twenty-five thousand US dollars. Jacob Kingston’s testimony in court indicated that he was unsure what the monies were paid for, but he assumed it was for security and protection whilst Dermen was in Belize. Interestingly, Lev Dermen had also received Belize nationality and was seeking an honorary consulate position in Las Vegas until the US disapproved.