Today is “D Day” for the gang affiliated men who were hauled in a police dragnet in Belize City. Initially over one hundred men were locked up at the police station, but that number was whittled down to fifty one; those fifty one men were shuttled to the Belize Central Prison for what officials say would be thirty days under the State of Emergency initiative. Love News spoke to the prison’s Chief Executive Officer, Virgilio Murillo on Tuesday who indicated that he was awaiting instructions from the Ministry of National Security. While in the capital today, we spoke to Attorney General, Michael Peyrefitte and Lead Senator, Godwin Hulse about the 30-day mark under the State of Emergency. They were quite tight lipped about whether or not the men from the south side of Belize City would go home tonight.
Michael Peyrefitte, Attorney General: “ I would prefer for the government to speak with one voice and so I will leave that for the Ministry of National security. I would prefer for them to answer how they would proceed after this.”
Reporter: “But the majority in cabinet…?
Michael Peyrefitte, Attorney General: I won’t discuss what happens in Cabinet.
Reporter: “Yes, no or maybe?”
Jose Sanchez: “What happens in Cabinet stays in Cabinet? However, the CEO for the Kolbe foundation Mr. Murillo says that according to a letter from the Ministry of National Security, point number 5 states that he is not to release anyone until he has received specific orders, not orders regarding the State of Emergency itself but from National Security. Will they be released today?”
Michael Peyrefitte, Attorney General: “I don’t know that’s why I point you to.”
Jose Sanchez: “As the Attorney General you should know.”
Michael Peyrefitte, Attorney General: “No. I was saying we prefer the government to speak with one voice and I will prefer for you to check with the Minister of National Security and or the Deputy Commissioner of Police Mr. Chester Williams .
Jose Sanchez: “No debate was made regarding an extension in the House for the State of Emergency? Do you think that it should be extended or are you of the preview that they should be released?”
Michael Peyrefitte, Attorney General: “I am not in the House. I am in the Senate.”
Jose Sanchez: “As a Senator and Attorney General should they be released?”
Michael Peyrefitte, Attorney General: “ Like I said, I will repeat again, the matter is for the Ministry of National Security and I would prefer for them to answer first. They are the ones doing all the ground work with this State of Emergency. Out of respect and difference for them I would prefer for them to come in and answer questions on it. I don’t want us to have two answers to a situation even if the two answers are inadvertent. I want to speak with one voice, it’s an important issue and I would prefer for one voice to come from National Security.”
Jose Sanchez: “Has the Cabinet decided to release the 51 men from the Belize central Prison who have been detained for the past 30 days?”
Michael Peyrefitte, Attorney General:“We have not had Cabinet meeting this week so I cannot comment Jose. After the meeting next week I will know, so I can’t say but that will be a decision for the Minister of National Security.”
Jose Sanchez: “There wasn’t a debate in the house last week however according the proclamation that the thirty day period should have ended so they should have been released at least legally from what it appears without this extension granted?”
Michael Peyrefitte, Attorney General:“Yes but I cannot comment on it because I do not have the facts here.”
We can confirm that as at 5:30 this evening, none of the fifty-one detainees had been released. Minutes ago, Love News reached out to Colonel George Lovell, CEO for the Ministry of National Security regarding the state of emergency. He told us that we must abide by the law.
Jose Sanchez: “The 51 men who have been detained should have been released today at the end of 30 days but we know they are not, so what’s the situation?”
(Ret’d) Col. George Lovell, C.E.O., Ministry of National Security: “Is it today that they were going to get released?
Jose Sanchez: “Yes the thirty days would have been up today on the 3rd since the declaration was signed.”
(Ret’d) Col. George Lovell, C.E.O., Ministry of National Security: “I would have to confirm that because 30 days is 30 days indeed and the law is quite straight in terms of the powers under that emergency act that the Ministry of National Security and the Police can enforce and so I would have to confirm that you are in fact that you are right and if you are I would have to find out from people what the situation is. I am not in the position to say anymore than that, just not right now but 30 days is 30 days indeed.”Jose Sanchez:: ”Yes and just to inform you as well the CEO of the Kolbe Foundation Virgilio Murillo when I spoke to him yesterday regarding what could have happened today, he made it clear that his orders that came from the Ministry of National Security point number 5 explicitly stated that he had to wait for permission to release them and that is the reason why.”
(Ret’d) Col. George Lovell, C.E.O., Ministry of National Security: “Alright I am going to follow up on it. My understanding that it should have expired on Saturday but let me just call my people and confirm.”
Jose Sanchez: “It should have been the 3rd.”
(Ret’d) Col. George Lovell, C.E.O., Ministry of National Security: “And then see exactly what the situation is but the law is straight and we must abide by the law.”
Love News had just learned that the men would be picked up tonight by a police bus and then they would be released into their neighborhoods.