7 News Belize

7 News Belize HeadlinesFriday, September 19, 2014

Saldivar Stunned by Coye Suit, Gives Emotional Interview
Claim number 518 of 2014 - that's the number of the lawsuit Melonie Coye and her attorney Eamon Courtenay have filed against Arthur Saldivar. She makes a claim for nine hundred and four t...
Church Gets Injunction Against Alkaline
Jamaican dancehall artist, Earlan Bartley, who is better known as Alkaline, landed in Belize yesterday for a concert in Cayo and Dangriga. He's supposed to be the next big headline event...
Is Your Belizean Flag Fake?
Every year on Independence eve, we hoist the Belizean Flag marking another year of nationhood. But when the flag goes up tonight, look at the coat of arms closely - the men on it should look...
Chinese Businessman Kills Robber In Orange Walk
An alleged robber was killed in Orange Walk Town this afternoon. It happened at 3:05 pm right in front of the Town Hospital - in plain view of dozens of drivers and pedestrians. Eyewitne...
National Hero Price Remembered On Nat’l Service Day
Today is National Service Day - the day established to mark the passing of National Hero George Price in 2011. All across Belize, civic-minded citizens, groups and companies engaged in ...
PUP Back-Pedals On Protest – Money Problems?
And while the party Celebrated the life and service of George Price, they turn their attention to next week when they celebrate the anniversary of the party's founding - which happened at th...
PUP Supports Anti Crime Initiative, Not GSU
And while we had Fonseca this morning, we also asked him about his views on crime and government's decision - in the face of so much controversy - to bolster the numbers of the officers in t...
“Robbery” Charged, Along With Other Prominent Gang Figures
The biggest news this week has been the spree of shootings, which happened on Wednesday night, believed to be retaliation by George Street for the death of Cyril McFoy Robinson, the ...
Five Years For Firearm
Rafael Usher is at prison tonight serving out a 5 year sentence after he was convicted of firearm offences today. The incident occurred around 10:20 p.m. on June 3, 2011. Two police of...
Community Service Means Removing Graffiti
Earlier on, we told you about National Service Day. Well, the Belize City Police Eastern Division along with the Belize City Council and students of Wesley College did their part by pai...
Children Learn Nationalist Lessons At School Rally
And while the high schoolers were doing national service, the primary schoolers were at the Annual Children's Day Rally at Birds Isle. It was postponed last Friday as a result of the rai...
Mayor Makes Plans For City Celebrations
And while children got to wave their flags today, on Sunday, Belizeans all across the country will get to celebrate independence. In Belize City that means an all daY street fest after the ...
Mayor: Sale Of Alcohol Not Prohibited
And while the Independence Day Bram should be a fun filled event, some vendors are not too happy. That is because they applied for a license to sell liquor at Sunday's event but were denied ...
NICH Celebrates Video Stars
And to coincide with the celebrations, for the past month and a half, NICH has been hosting a competition where patriots create and post a 3 to 5 minute video illustrating their love for cou...
ACC Raises Its Flag
And while those 3 contestants showed the most outstanding form of patriotism with technology, the Anglican Cathedral College has been consistently displaying their love of country for th...
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7 News Belize - News:
Important Note: This Internet version of 7 News is a verbatum transcript of our evening television news script. Many interviews on our newscast are conducted in Creole. In the interest of clarity for our foreign readers, we attempt to paraphrase the Creole quotes in English

Saldivar Stunned by Coye Suit, Gives Emotional Interview

Claim number 518 of 2014 - that's the number of the lawsuit Melonie Coye and her attorney Eamon Courtenay have filed against Arthur Saldivar. She makes a claim for nine hundred and four thousand, seven hundred and forty dollars - which she says he was supposed to take to her home on June 12th, 2013 - but never did. The filing says, Saldivar, quote, "refused to return the monies…and instead has since kept it for his own use."

Now, we've been reporting on this pending lawsuit for over a month - and it was finally filed yesterday. So, it didn't exactly catch us off guard. But, very surprisingly, it does seem to have caught Saldivar on his heels. Today, his agents called us for an interview where he expressed, shock, disappointment, sadness, and yes, even tears, that it had come to this. We're sure you're saying, "tears?" That can't be Arthur Saldivar! After all, he's always so brassy, bold and often arrogant in his TV appearances. But today he showed a much more human side. It seems the weight of the lawsuit, combined with the symbolism of National Service Day, which is commemorate the passing of PUP founder George Price, had Saldivar in a pensive mood. And he shared his thoughts with us:

Arthur Saldivar, Former PUP Std. Bearer - BRN
"Having made known or notified of the existence of the filing I had to reflect on the fact that I did humble dedicated service for four and a half years to a client who I considered a friend. I certainly had no idea that this would have gone this far in relation to the client that I've served, so I certainly expect this to happen the way it has in that I believed that ultimately truth will prevail, good sense and conscience and truth will prevent this from going to this extent. But I do look forward to my day in court to clear my name like my party leader wants me to and I say my party leader because ultimately Jules, George Price legacy is one of nation building, not of destroying, not of tearing down. My political mentor and almost my second dad Maxwell Samuels was faced with even greater trial in his life of service. We all know, it's well documented, but he never sought to do anything to harm the party. He accepted his faith and he did his best to continue to serve. All I ever wanted to do in my life from the time I was 7 years old, after meeting George Price after I was playing in the drain was do what he told me I would do, that I will help build and develop this country. If I stayed true and got my education and I did that. I look forward Jules to clearing my name. I repeat that and as you have said in your last interview and I reflected on that when you spoke of those in the executive who made the decisions that they have made, I thank those who stood up for me. I aim to make them proud of me and proud of the position. I also want to have those who did not support me there to appreciate that I forgive them. I don't hold any malice towards them and I will not do anything to harm the party's chances. I am asking all my supporters and my executive, PUP executive, the Belize Rural North to stand down, don't fight fire with fire. We are not of that ilk. The founding father of our nation of our party has always taught us that we were to always keep our houses business within the house. I don't want nor do I support the tearing down of the party and the social media. I will not do anything to encourage that and I am asking you to stand down from that if that is the position that you have taken."

"Jules, I am the son of public servants, I know what it means to struggle in life. I was not born with a gold spoon or a silver one. I cannot say that I have had it as hard as many, but I do know what challenges are. This is a challenge that I have to face now."

Jules Vasquez
"You are emotional, you have a heavy heart. Why is that?"

Arthur Saldivar, Former PUP Std. Bearer - BRN
"I've been known to have a big heart and....."

Jules Vasquez
"But I don't know you as a fragile guy. You and I have been through a lot. I've confronted you on many issues and you always taken it smilingly, but it looks like you got hit hard."

Arthur Saldivar, Former PUP Std. Bearer - BRN
"I believe in people. I believe in the decency of human beings. I believe generally that people are good and I believe in my client up until this filing. I don't know really what has caused her to abandon every aspect of good that I've shown to really reach a point where she would come to this to where we are now at and all we had to do to bring Melonie and her father to freedom - That's the price of freedom."

Jules Vasquez
"$904,000?"

Arthur Saldivar, Former PUP Std. Bearer - BRN
"I don't have that. I wish I did."

Jules Vasquez
"You feel that your former client has betrayed you in a fundamental way, but it's like everybody had known this would have happen. It seems that only you thought it wouldn't."

Arthur Saldivar, Former PUP Std. Bearer - BRN
"I really didn't think that it was going to happen."

Jules Vasquez
"Really."

Arthur Saldivar, Former PUP Std. Bearer - BRN
"Yeah, I didn't. I believe that again, if you follow the history of the case, you would have known that I stood by my client through every trial and tribulation."

So, you did hear right: Saldivar told his supporters to "stand down." So does that then mean that he's walking back from his pronouncement made just two days ago that he would run as an independent PUP? It sure sounded like that! But for the avoidance of doubt, we asked the question squarely - and, eventually, he gave us a square answer:..

Arthur Saldivar, Former PUP Std. Bearer - BRN
"If it is the will and wish of the people to have me serve, I will serve, but it must be from the people. It cannot be from me. It's not my will, it's the people's will. That's the way Mr. Price have laid this party and set it up. That's the way Maxwell Samuels have taught me to follow - it's the will of the people always. The people of the Belize Rural North will make that determination. I will respect the party, I will not do anything to harm my party."

Jules Vasquez
"They won't have the chance, the executive has made the determination for them."

So, that's the state of play: Saldivar is wounded by Melonie Coye's lawsuit and he's not going to harm his party. But, after he told us all that, while clearly holding back tears - a strange thing happened: Saldivar asked us to turn back on the camera because he wanted to apologize for his rogue behavior which was captured in that viral video. You remember the one where he is seen using foul language and gestures to a resort owner in Placencia. Well, in his most emotional moment, he told us he let everyone down:..

Arthur Saldivar, Former PUP Std. Bearer - BRN
"A few weeks ago after a boardroom meeting was concluded at a resort in the south. I was captured on a phone making certain gestures and uttering words. I don't offer any excuse for what I did. I take responsibility for it. I disappointed a lot of people who know me to be better than that and certainly I was a disappointment to myself. After looking back at it, it was not something I should have done. I should not have done that, I should not have said those things. I want to apologize to all those people that I've disappointed by those actions, my teachers. In fact I met a few of my teachers when I went back to Belmopan the other day and they were not too pleased and I am always a student willing to learn and accept advice from my teachers. I apologize to them. I apologize to the Belizean people. It's one thing to be proud and strong, it's another thing to be disrespectful. I never want to come across as being disrespectful and I am sorry."

Pretty remarkable stuff, and now Saldivar says he will reserve comment until the Melonie Coye lawsuit goes to court.


Church Gets Injunction Against Alkaline

Jamaican dancehall artist, Earlan Bartley, who is better known as Alkaline, landed in Belize yesterday for a concert in Cayo and Dangriga. He's supposed to be the next big headline event for the 20th Night. But, tonight, the concert is in jeopardy because of a late move to pull the venue.

The concert was scheduled to be held at Sacred Heart College in San Ignacio. That's a Catholic run school, and Alkaline's often outrageous, violent and sexually explicit lyrics caught the ear of the Catholic Church in Belize.

Today, a Press Release was sent from the office of Bishop Dorick Wright and the Catholic Diocese of Belize City and Belmopan.

In the release, the Bishop strongly condemned the decision to have such a concert on the grounds of a catholic school, calling it, quote, "...a serious error in judgement." End quote.

He continues on to explain the reasons for his strong disagreement. The statement says, quote.

"A cursory investigation on the internet reveals how shocking (even by today's standards) is this artist's music lyrics and on-stage lewd behavior....He has been banned from performing on some Caribbean islands and should have no place in our Christian Nation of Belize. This concert represents a departure from everything we in the Church hold as good, wholesome and sacred. Sacred Heart College must not promote such rank hedonism." End quote

The Bishop's statement continues, quote, "...It is of the general public's concern and in the best interest of our youth that this said event be opposed by parents. As the Bishop charged with the duty of shepherding the families of our Nation, I am sounding a call to all parents to forbid your children from attending this event. This artist's performance will certainly impact your children's innocence and spiritual wholeness in a very negative way. May the people of San Ignacio and Belize be aware of what is coming to our shores." End Quote

This evening, the Bishop authorized his attorney argue an ex-parte interim injunction to stop the concert from being held at Sacred Heart. It happened just an hour before news time, and 7News was there. Here's what Michel Chebat told us:

Michel Chebat, attorney
"It is an application by the Roman Catholic Church of Belize and the application is geared at preventing Alkaline's concert at the Sacred Heart college grounds. As you all may be aware, in the church's view this artist does not reflect the morals and values of the Catholic Church. It is allege that this gentleman is involve with satanic worship, his lyrics are lewd. I would say to you that somebody like that should not be allowed to even enter into Belize. He is not somebody that we want our youth to be exposed and so thankfully the court has seen that and the court has granted a temporary injunction preventing the concert. We are to return tomorrow morning at 10am for an interparty hearing where the promoters will get an opportunity for the court to hear them if they so wish."

Isani Cayetano, Ch5
"One of the questions is why at a last minute, at the eleventh hour; would the Catholic Church decide to forward this particular request?"

Michel Chebat
"This has just been brought to the bishop's attention and it is the bishop who has mandated and has instructed me to proceed to obtain the injunction. As you all are aware, the Roman Catholic Church is the proprietor of Sacred Heart College and in that light he is the ultimate authority over that school and he has so exercised his authority today."

Daniel Ortiz
"This might be seen or taken as a publicity stunt. Any sort of publicity is good publicity even though it is bad; it might boost ticket sales for the artist. How do you respond to those who say that the church has bought into that game and they have allowed Mr. Alkaline more attention than he wouldn't have got, had you not taken this step?"

Michel Chebat
"I think your comment is a fair comment. We would hope that people out there who are looking and listening and who have done the research on Alkaline would know exactly what it is that he represents and would stop their children from attending this concert. Certainly we don't want our kids to be exposed to this kind of a person."

This comes as a major blow to the promoters, who've promoting the concert at Sacred Heart for some weeks now. This evening, we got one of those promoters on the phone. He told us that Sacred Heart's management signed contracts, and the Catholic Church shouldn't be allowed to break that written agreement:

Martin Castillo, Promoter
"I'm in process of talking to my lawyer and see what the possibilities are and from there I will make a step whereby we have to meet the demands of the people. We have to meet the demands of what everybody has been waiting for, the baddest artist Alkaline. I am going now to the school party, like I said I've been in Belmopan all day trying to get my working permit whereby I've been granted before my temporary working permit and I've been pushed around. I want the Belizean people know that I've been pushed around for 5 hours for a working permit that I already have the temporary working permit sign for."

Daniel Ortiz
"You are talking about working permit for Mr. Alkaline right?"

Martin Castillo, Promoter
"Yes."

Daniel Ortiz
"Now that the church has made this move, do you intend to try to fight tomorrow in court to get that venue as was planned?"

Martin Castillo, Promoter
"Like I said I am going to be in process of talking to my lawyer and see what the possibilities are. We have paid, we have talk to the directors, the president the space from the time we did this months ago. They wanted a detail description of what this artist present and we explain to them in copies that we sent to them via email that we have as evidence. The contract was sign doing for the venue on the certain dates that we mention. They had a meeting and we discuss everything with them on the phone via my representative that's been here and they were fine with it. As what have been transpired within the 2-3 days I really have not been checking into it as I just landed yesterday, so that's the thing we are looking into now. Like I said I will proceed with the proper procedures to make this show go on."

Alkaline has faced this sort of tough criticism before when his work permit was revoked on the small Caribbean island of Nevis, which makes up half of St. Kitts and Nevis. Caribbean News reports say that no less than the Prime Minister of that country, Premier Vance Armory, voiced his objection to Alkaline being allowed to perform in St. Kitts and Nevis.

But when Nevis blocked him from performing in July. Eventually, under protest he was granted permission to perform and after that experience, he spoke with an entertainment company, called Mada-road. Here's what he had to say, in July, about resistance to have him perform.

Alkaline and his attorneys have the option to fight the injunction in court tomorrow at 10 a.m., and the promoter told us that he will explore all options.


Is Your Belizean Flag Fake?

Every year on Independence eve, we hoist the Belizean Flag marking another year of nationhood. But when the flag goes up tonight, look at the coat of arms closely - the men on it should look brown and black. If they don't - then that means even officialdom has been overtaken by the fake flag syndrome. Fake flags, you say? It's real, alright, and Courtney Weatherburne has been investigating:..

Inez Sanchez and the late Everal Waight won $500 dollars as a team in 1981 for coming up with the flag design. So do you want to know if your flag is real? Well, as you have heard from the designer, one man should be black and the other brown. The 'yellow' man should have no place on the Belizean flag.


Chinese Businessman Kills Robber In Orange Walk

An alleged robber was killed in Orange Walk Town this afternoon. It happened at 3:05 pm right in front of the Town Hospital - in plain view of dozens of drivers and pedestrians. Eyewitnesses say that a Chinese business owner shot a man as he was riding off - allegedly from a robbery. The businessman had a nine-millimeter pistol and shot the alleged robber right off his bicycle on the wide intersection in front of the hospital. Eyewitnesses confirm that after the man went tumbling off his bike, the business man then walked up to him on the ground and shot him twice more. The man lay gasping on the ground and the Chinese man then started to kick him in the head. He then walked off - and an ambulance came - but as the emergency technicians. put him in the stretcher he took his last breath.

At this time, it is not known if anything was stolen. The name of the deceased is Leslie Logan Jr, and he is allegedly one of two robbers; the other got away.


National Hero Price Remembered On Nat’l Service Day

Today is National Service Day - the day established to mark the passing of National Hero George Price in 2011. All across Belize, civic-minded citizens, groups and companies engaged in different forms of public service - in the truest spirit of Mr. Price. The PUP started the day with their annual wreath laying ceremony at his burial site on Lord's Ridge Cemetery. He was remembered by his followers and his family:..

Henry Usher, PUP Chairman
"This the 3rd anniversary of the passing of the Rt. Hon. George Price, our uncle and Susie's brother and in this anniversary as in every year we must reflect in what we are and who we are as a country and what want to achieve going forward."

Rt. Hon. Said Musa
"And as he said in one of his poems 'Little people have tried and turned away, nation building is task for giants and you little people who are here with us today will one day become giants when you become nation builders.'"

Hon. Francis Fonseca
"Perhaps the greatest aspect of Mr. Price's legacy to Belize was his commitment to unity; one nation, one people. He truly understood what that meant, he believe in it. Mr. Price's message of unity standing together shoulder to shoulder fighting for a better Belize and a better life for all Belizeans. I think increasingly people are remembering and reflecting on the leadership of Mr. Price and remembering how he stood for unity in our nation at a time in 2014 when we seem to be so divided on many issues, so I think even in our own party and in the wider society there is a sense of longing for George Price's leadership."

Price's younger sister, 84 year old Katherine Susie Price, laid the family wreath.


PUP Back-Pedals On Protest – Money Problems?

And while the party Celebrated the life and service of George Price, they turn their attention to next week when they celebrate the anniversary of the party's founding - which happened at the Price family home.

To commemorate the day, the party will have a National Party Council meeting in Belmopan. Weeks ago, plans were being made for a mass protest against the UDP government. Our reports said that that party wanted to bus in a crowd of ten thousand, with a budget well over one hundred thousand dollars.

Then, because money was scarce that was pared down to one thousand from each of the four caucuses countrywide - and now, it's just an NPC meeting with 7 persons from each division.

So what happened to all the big plans? That's what we asked Fonseca today:..

Jules Vasquez
"I heard the original plan was to have a large protest eventually it had to be downscale and now it has been scrap because, there is no nice way to say it, PUP is broke. What really is the story with this?"

Hon. Francis Fonseca, Leader of the Opposition
"You keep insisting on that propaganda Jules. I don't know where you get your information, but that's certainly not the case. We did discuss different options as it relates to our national party council meeting and at the end of the day we made a decision that we would have a regular national party council meeting. There was discussion of a protest of a protest this year, not necessarily on the party's birthday and that is still under discussion, but certainly it's not a question of resources. The party is not the party it used to be in terms of a treasure chest if you like and that's absolutely fine with me. But we have the resources, we require to carry out the work of the People's United Party."


PUP Supports Anti Crime Initiative, Not GSU

And while we had Fonseca this morning, we also asked him about his views on crime and government's decision - in the face of so much controversy - to bolster the numbers of the officers in the Gang Suppression Unit. Fonseca says he supports getting tough on crime, but not doing it with the GSU:..

Hon. Francis Fonseca, Leader of the Opposition
"Gang violence is a serious problem. Crime and violence obviously is ravaging our society particularly south side of Belize City, so we consider that a very serious matter and as I have always said to Mr. Barrow both publicly and privately when we meet the People's Unity Party is here to support this work of the government in fighting crime, but we have to review the functions and performance and role of the GSU as it presently exist and I believe we need to replace it with another security force which can begin anew and regain the confidence and trust of the Belizean people."

And this evening on 7News, Fonseca surely got some good news when he heard that Arthur Saldivar would, quote "not be doing anything to harm his party."

And so now the PUP won't be going through trials and tribulations - but, you never know. While Saldivar was contrite and emotional today, he could be back truculent and belligerent tomorrow. We spoke to his party leader this morning - before the Saldivar reversal - about the what if's: what if he runs independent, and what if he challenges the party executive. Here's what Fonseca had to say:..

Hon. Francis Fonseca, Leader of the Opposition
"Anybody who is removed will not be happy with the leader. That's taken for granted and so I have no comment on that, we that we believe is in the best interest of the People's United Party."

Jules Vasquez
"He wants to challenge at the national convention. It may be a little talk, but it is a fundamental principle that he feels that all posts are open for challenge at the national convention. We all know a resolution was passed making it not so. How do you view that?"

Hon. Francis Fonseca, Leader of the Opposition
"I don't view it in any way. He is free to say what he wants to do and the national executive of the People's United Party has made a decision and we stand by that decision, so there is no question of any challenge to the leadership of the party."

Jules Vasquez
"However theoretically, the George Price idea is that anybody can lead the PUP. That's how it was originally set up, so he is anybody."

Hon. Francis Fonseca, Leader of the Opposition
"Yes and I am saying to you that he can say what he wants and he can desire to do what he wants, but the national executive of the party as Mr. Price always also said when the party speaks and the party make a decision, we must all support that decision and abide by that decision. That is the position of the People's United Party in 2014."

Jules Vasquez
"Is that a subject of concern for you that he says he will run independently?"

Hon. Francis Fonseca, Leader of the Opposition
"Not at all. I believe that the supporters of the People's United Party and others in Belize Rural North will at the end of the day support the People's United Party and we will present to them a very credible candidate who we believe will be able to win over their support."

Reporter
"Is there anybody yet that the party is thinking of?"

Hon. Francis Fonseca, Leader of the Opposition
"No, we have just started that process of as I said at the last press briefing the chairman of the party is going into Belize Rural North. He will meet with the existing committee and we will determine how best we move forward and as I said our objective is to have that candidate in place by the end of 2014."

Jules Vasquez
"Might Richard Dickie Bradley be someone waiting in the wings? He is a very visible personality in the PUP."

Hon. Francis Fonseca, Leader of the Opposition
"No, I have not heard that at all."

And Fonseca was also challenged today to release the report that the party prepared on Saldivar. As we told you a team led by the chairman was sent to investigate the claims against Saldivar. Saldivar claims the report proved nothing and because of that it was never used in the deliberations against him. So will the PUP release it? Here's what Fonseca said:

Reporter
"Unwilling to release the details of that investigation, however isn't this somewhat like what the UDP has done, the way that we get reports that are done by the auditor general's because its leaked, but the party itself refuse to comment on the specific results. Is it that you had concrete evidence to suggest that Arthur Saldivar did what he is being accused of?"

Hon. Francis Fonseca, Leader of the Opposition
"As I said we got internal report, we set up a committee that carried out an investigation into this matter, an inquiry. They delivered a report and that is completely an internal document. Government has an obligation to share with the Belizean people reports like the ones you are talking about, auditor general report and these other things. But this is completely an internal process."


“Robbery” Charged, Along With Other Prominent Gang Figures

The biggest news this week has been the spree of shootings, which happened on Wednesday night, believed to be retaliation by George Street for the death of Cyril McFoy Robinson, the father of Brandon Tillett, known as "BT", one of the affiliates of George Street. Well tonight, one of the major players of the George Street Gang is at prison tonight after he was charged with firearm offences.

We told you on Monday that at the end of Juveey on last week Saturday, shots were fired at the corner of Douglas Jones Street and New Road. Police say that 28 year-old Kareem Lopez, better known as Robbery, was the trigger man. He was charged with discharging a firearm in public, and he was arraigned today before the Chief Magistrate, Anne Marie Smith.

Due to the nature of the offence, he couldn't be granted bail, and he was remanded to prison until November 7. Of importance is that as soon as his arraignment was over, he was re-detained by personnel from the Criminal Investigations Branch to be investigated for a recent murder.

And while that is pretty straightforward, here's what's different: second in command at Eastern Division, Senior Superintendent Edward Broaster confirms to us that five men have been charged for belonging to a criminal gang. They weren't taken to court today, but we are told they will be remanded by a JP. They are Brandon Tillett - whose father was killed, the same Kareem Lopez we just told you about, Shane Harris, Alex Underwood and Wababa Norales. They were not taken to court today because they were charged late in the evening we are told. But they remain in custody on remand. We'll follow up on Tuesday.


Five Years For Firearm

Rafael Usher is at prison tonight serving out a 5 year sentence after he was convicted of firearm offences today.

The incident occurred around 10:20 p.m. on June 3, 2011. Two police officers testified that they responded to a report of shots being fired on Matura Street and while they were on Gill Street they saw Usher riding a pink beach cruiser bicycle coming towards their vehicle. They said that when they spotted Usher and searched him they found a sawed-off shotgun tucked his waist. It had one cartridge in the chamber, and when the officers continued to search him, they found another cartridge on one of his pockets. They subsequently charged him with keeping a prohibited firearm, and keeping prohibited ammunition.

Usher testified in his own defense, and denied that the weapon was found on him. After reviewing all the evidence, Senior Magistrate Sharon Frazer, found him guilty. She sentenced him to a total of 8 years for both offences, but because the sentences are to run concurrently, he will only serve 5 years.


Community Service Means Removing Graffiti

Earlier on, we told you about National Service Day. Well, the Belize City Police Eastern Division along with the Belize City Council and students of Wesley College did their part by painting over graffiti on walls around the city neighborhoods. We caught up with the 30 students, 18 police officers and 15 Belize City council staff members through Majestic Alley.

Douglas Hyde - Eastern Division Public Relation Officer
"The police department specifically eastern division along with Wesley College, along with the Belize City Council have partnered today for National Service Day and one of the efforts that we literally embarked on is to have the young people which is 30 of them along with police officers, we have 18 of them and 20 members of the staff of Belize City Council to paint over all graffiti's in Belize City and we've literally look at all the areas, hot spot areas and basically we are going to cover these graffiti's with beautiful colors and the idea of this is to continue this work, not only today but after this to have a competition within the neighborhoods of doing moral, showing or depicting positive messages in the area of positive graffiti's and pictures within their area."

Khyra Harris - Wesley College Student
"Today we are having fun because we as students are giving back to our community because the graffiti take away the beauty from our beautiful and by us painting it, it shows that we care as citizens of Belize. I have painted walls and the basketball court, I am tired but I had fun."

Douglas Hyde - Eastern Division Public Relation Officer
"We started off 9am this morning and we did Pickstock, Jungle area. We also visited Kelly Street. We did Faber's Road extension likewise, Pinks Alley here and we have other communities that we plan to do the first painting of these graffiti and as I said we are going to do the first phase is painting and the second phase we are going to color it up and then we are going to have a competition that we are going to expand to the different communities."

Darrel Bradley - Belize City Mayor
"We had partnered with the police department and with Wesley High School to really celebrate the National Service Day and I really believe in the spirit of the National Service Day. Of course, it was created in the honor of George Price who was the Father of our Nation and if not for him we wouldn't even be celebrating independence and I believe that he lived his life in a certain way that promotes a heart and spirit of service and one of the things that we really wanted to say is during the September celebrations it's not all about the singing and the dancing and the fetes and the different things - it's about nationalism, it's about civic pride, it's about community service. We made it a point to really try to partnered with the police who have an exciting program with young people to really go around the city in certain strategic areas and to repaint buildings that were graffiti and we also work extensively in the hutment area painting the buildings, refurbishing a park in that area and cleaning out the area. I was there from about 8:30 this morning to about 11:30 and then we had young people from Wesley College and other City Council staff who were at other areas like Lovely Lane, Kelly Street. We did beatification and painting in the various areas and I think that this is something that really respects the memory of George Price being that he was such a service and community minded person. I think it's something that every single person should reflect on during the September celebrations. Also what we did is at the end of the whole clean up when we signed off on everything, early this afternoon when everybody was fed and we tidy up everything, in memory of the significance of George Price to the September celebrations also we symbolically laid a wreath at his grave site just in honor of this day and in honor of what he means to the September celebrations."


Children Learn Nationalist Lessons At School Rally

And while the high schoolers were doing national service, the primary schoolers were at the Annual Children's Day Rally at Birds Isle. It was postponed last Friday as a result of the rain but the children were ready to go today - and why not, it's a holiday and a chance to get out of the classroom. But, more than just a fun outing, Dr. Carol Babb said the event is impactful:..

Dr. Carol Babb
"It has been very successful over the years. We've been having it for many years, more years than I can remember, but we get the children together and we try to focus on important topics such as patriotism; the focus this morning was on patriotism. We want to instill in these young people the love of country and we talk to them about ways that they can demonstrate patriotism."

"This morning I must tell you that they were extremely attentive. We never once had to ask them to be quite. We also had this young man who is a motivational speaker, a 12 year old - Anthony and he really engaged them and he inspired them and he motivated them and I look at their faces and I saw them watching intently and so I believe we are making some impact on the way that we want them to go."

Student #1
"I learn that you have to stand up for Belize."

Student #2
"To have everybody know the National Anthem and have everybody believe in God and learn to keep the city clean and stop the violence."

There were about 700 students present - much smaller than the crowds we used to see at the now demolished City Center.


Mayor Makes Plans For City Celebrations

And while children got to wave their flags today, on Sunday, Belizeans all across the country will get to celebrate independence. In Belize City that means an all daY street fest after the official parade. The mayor told us what to expect.


Mayor: Sale Of Alcohol Not Prohibited

And while the Independence Day Bram should be a fun filled event, some vendors are not too happy. That is because they applied for a license to sell liquor at Sunday's event but were denied and told liquor will only be sold at the Pier One Bar or a Bowen and Bowen Bar inside the BTL park. Today the Mayor told 7news news that's not the case. He explained.

The Independence Day Bram starts at 11am on Sunday morning and ends at 6pm.


NICH Celebrates Video Stars

And to coincide with the celebrations, for the past month and a half, NICH has been hosting a competition where patriots create and post a 3 to 5 minute video illustrating their love for country.

It's an interesting social experiment where the contestants make use of youtube and Facebook to market themselves and earn views and today, the NICH's Institute of Social and Cultural Research announced the winning 4 entries. Today, we spoke with each of winners and the contest organizers. Here's what they told us:

Janessa Teck won $1000 for her first place entry, while Vanessa Edwards won $700. Kyraan Gabourel won $500 for his third place entry, and he also won viewers choice because he got the most views on Facebook and YouTube.


ACC Raises Its Flag

And while those 3 contestants showed the most outstanding form of patriotism with technology, the Anglican Cathedral College has been consistently displaying their love of country for the past 31 years - they started one year after independence.

They made number 32 today with their flag raising ceremony, and we stopped by to see their Independence Rally. Here's what the Anglican Bishop told us about the event:

Bishop Phillip Wright, Chairman, Board of Governors - ACC
"Every year we've done it, probably for last 32 years since we came into existence as ACC and I think it's a fairly simple way in trying to instill in the students a sense of patriotism, but also the fact that we have a lot of reasons to celebrate and give God thanks for a beautiful land he has given us."

Daniel Ortiz
"Tell us about today's particular event, some of the things which were different from last year and years before?"

Bishop Phillip Wright
"To be honest it's more or less the same. What changes from year to year is the actual items, but it involves a flag, it involves the singing of the anthem, it involves some cultural presentations, a guess speaker that comes in and tries to encourage the children to remember to stay focus and that sort of thing."

Daniel Ortiz
"Is it something you think important that each student who passes through the school remembers that he or she is a Belizean?"

Bishop Phillip Wright
"Very much so, we hope that we are raising up individuals who can become productive citizens in the future and for you to become a productive citizen you have to have a love of country too and so we do not underestimate the importance of that."






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