Nearly 30 gang members to be released from custody after SOE ends
Almost thirty gang members will be back on the streets of Belize City tomorrow after serving one month at the Belize Central Prison under the State of Emergency Regulations. The SOE was declared in three areas of Belize City on July 28 after a war between factions in George Street, Taylor’s Alley, and South Side Gangs resulted in three murders. The measure of last resort sought to aid the police and the Leadership Intervention Unit in defusing tensions and stopping the bloodshed. But will the men return to their street feud? Commissioner of Police Chester Williams says not on his watch. Today, the ComPol and members of the LIU met with the alleged gang members and gave them a stern warning.
Chester Williams, Commissioner of Police: “I came up and had a session with the persons who are detained as a part of the SOE and basically to have a feel of what is it that they intend to do when they are released should they be released tomorrow. I was here on Monday, myself, brother Nuri, brother Footie, and then we returned today and along with us came Sister Dominique and I can say that both Monday and today we had extremely good sessions with the young men. And we’re hoping that when tomorrow comes and they are released back into society that we are going to see a difference in their behavior. My message to them is simple that the ball is in their court. How they behave when they get out will determine if they should come back. And I am sure that if they were to come back because of the same behavior, it won’t be for 30 days. So they need to get the message. They want their freedom. They’re getting their freedom. But while you’re free, you must ensure you do things that are compatible with human ordinary behavior. And so they gave their word, they give their assurance, and I am hoping that they’re going to live up to what they have said during these sessions. I am very positive about it. I will just leave it at that, and then we’ll see how we go from there.”
In July, Williams stated that during the SOE, investigators would have conducted interviews to hold the men accountable for the lives lost during their gang feud. However, the ComPol explained that while the police were able to gather information, they didn’t get concrete evidence from the men.
Chester Williams, Commissioner of Police: “Certainly the police did continue the investigations in respect to those different murder cases and while yes the streets have a lot to say in terms of possible suspects we were not able to get any evidence to charge. People did come forward and say things orally, but when it comes to reducing what they had to say in writing they refused to do that. So we were not able to gather evidence to charge no one. Certainly the investigations remain open and should any evidence later come up that can tie any of the detainees or any other person to any of those murders, then we will act accordingly.”
This most recent state of emergency was declared on July 31, 2023.