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7 News Belize HeadlinesTuesday, September 02, 2014

Maimed By SUV, Francis Gill Back Home
Imagine leaving home after midnight to go buy a fried chicken, and then waking up the next day in the hospital with your right foot amputated from the knee down. It's almost unimagi...
Family of 61 Year Old Toledo Woman Speaks
And while the Gill maiming is the most viscerally arresting story coming out of the weekend - the other, involving the rape and murder of a 61 year old woman in rural Toledo is the most ...
PUP Says Disband The GSU
We've featured complaints against the Gang Suppression Unit in our newscast regularly. Recently, showed you what residents from Lakeview Street and Kraal Road had to say about alleged excess...
When Is a Lecture a “Leckcha”? Ask Silvaana
The University of Belize’s Faculty of Education and Arts launched Di Silvaana Udz Lechka Series today at the Jaguar auditorium in Belmopan. This is part of a year round series of events host...
Hezbolla Hysteria Has B’zean Arabs Losing Visas
The name Hezbollah has been in the local news more than once – always in reference to Arabs, mostly Lebanese who are accused of some illicit involvement. The most notable was the famous Raf...
The National Bank, One Year Later
Today the National Bank celebrated its 1st Anniversary. Although it is a new bank, Deputy General Manager Janet Arnold says they are doing well so far but, conceded that, inevitably there w...
Resolution In Baby Deaths At KHMH
Who can forget last year when 13 babies died inside the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit?...
Tenth: Examining The Historicity and The Mythology
For decades now, historians and intellectuals have been wrestling with the Tenth of September and the Battle of St. George’s Caye – critics question its validity both as a patriotic corner...
Belmopan Vendors Complain
There is a rift between the Belmopan city council and the capital’s market vendors. Last month, a very distraught market vendor came to our studios to tell her side of the story. ...
Stephan Gets "Cinco"
Tonight, 22 year old Stephan Anderson, a laborer of 7 Ebony Street, who was charged with firearm offences, is spending his first night of a 5 year sentence after he was convicted in Magist...
US Embassy Gives To Capital Cops
The US Embassy donated a kit of computer supplies to the Belmopan Police today. These items include 3 computers, peripherals along with 10 radios and polo shirts for the citizens on pat...
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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

Maimed By SUV, Francis Gill Back Home

Imagine leaving home after midnight to go buy a fried chicken, and then waking up the next day in the hospital with your right foot amputated from the knee down. It's almost unimaginable, but that's just what happened to Francis Gill early on Saturday morning at Key Lee restaurant in Belize City.

As we told you last night, eyewitnesses report that 42 year old Gill had some hard with 33 year old Devon Jones outside Key Lee - which is the former Li Chee at 12:45 am. Jones was with his girlfriend and after she had gotten her shrimp order, they left. But what no one expected was that Jones would then drive his Chevy Blazer over the sidewalk, and ram into Gill, but once but twice. He shattered Gill's right leg - and to the horror of onlookers, his leg actually came apart right there in front of the restaurant.

It's an unimaginable scene, and Gill remembers very little, if anything of the event. Today he came out of the hospital - and he agreed to speak to Monica Bodden off camera. He told her how he's dealing with life as an amputee:...

Francis Gill, Maimed
"I recall me and 3 young men going to Li Chee, I went there to purchase some food. I remember going there ordering food and I remember that I ordered the food and I went to the side to urinate and I just remember a hard pain in my body that I can't explain. From that point there I don't recall. When I woke up the next day I realize that my leg was completely gone and I started to ask questions. I ask why and how it happened and from what they told me, they said that it was an accident. They explained that someone ran into the wall into Li Chee and I am saying to them how is this an accident; if someone come onto the side walk into the fence and ran into me. I don't really know what was the reason or why someone would go all that way to try to kill me because I heard that he tried to run over me more than once but someone pull me out the way. I don't recall that, but this is what I heard. I don't know what I could say to someone or say to an individual for an individual to do something like that to me. It's like he was trying to take my life."

Monica Bodden
"This person, I am sure that you probably heard the name, the accused on the news. Do you know him?"

Francis Gill, Maimed
"Ma'am I don't know this individual, I never saw him before. I don't know him and we are not friends. I have never had any problem with this person before, so I don't really know why this person did what he did. They should have charged him for trying to kill me. I don't know what the police got from it, but that's my recollection of everything. I didn't see this young man coming into me or I would have gotten out the way. It's going to be hard because I have a family and I have bills to pay. I love my family, so I don't know how I will be able to do it but I have loving people around me, so I am going to be strong and I will stay focus and do appreciate that I have my life and that I could be here with my family. It's going to take a while for me to get back on my feet, but you know with the help of the good Lord I will make it."

Again, we note his account does not match that of eyewitnesses who said that the two men had argued, that Gill stared down Jones as he was mounting the sidewalk and racing his engine, and that he was hit two times - the second one being when he lost his leg.

Police say there was an actual fight, and Jones's family says he was beaten up by a group of men. He has been charged for maim and aggravated assault.


Family of 61 Year Old Toledo Woman Speaks

And while the Gill maiming is the most viscerally arresting story coming out of the weekend - the other, involving the rape and murder of a 61 year old woman in rural Toledo is the most disturbing. As we reported, on Saturday night, Coc reportedly left her home in san Pedro, Colombia, went to the shop to buy, and never returned. Her family went out looking for her, and at around 7:30, they found her nude body beside the main road at the southern entrance of the village. She had a large chop wound to the center of her head. A search around the area also led the officers to find pieces of clothing and blood stains, which they believe must belong to her.

She had been raped and murdered - and unthinkable and excessively cruel end, especially in a small, peaceful village. Her post mortem was held today, and her son told the media what the family knows so far about the murder:..

Ronaldo Coc, son of deceased
"At Saturday at 2 o' clock my mom says that she will be going to my uncle's place to deliver some container and then she was bought 10 pounds of rice coming back home. Coming back home she met a lady and they had a conversation there for a little while and then she left. After leaving there it's about 200 yards down a little hill and there she was murdered. So from 2 o' clock to 4:30 - that's when my dad got worried about where she was because she has never gone that long. When I came back and visit them it was almost 5pm and my dad had already left to look for her and so I went and look for her too. And as 5:30 reach we realize that something was wrong because she did go far. The family got together quick as possible because she has never stayed out that long, so we started to look round and around until 7:30 when they found the body that I never expected what had happen to my mother."

We also asked Ronaldo Coc about the group of concerned villagers who armed themselves with sticks and machetes after the body was found. They form a search party and went into the bush to look for the perpetrator. They didn't find him, but they believe they knew who his relatives are, and so they detained an entire family - which police said they could not do. We asked Coc about that:..

Ronaldo Coc, son of deceased
"The village leaders and the Area Representative Mr. Oscar Requena got all the people together and demand justice and they had to do something and I didn't know when they had plan it and the next day when I went at the village I met them there and they were aggressive about what had happen and since then they are assisting the police in capturing the suspect."

Reporter
"Can you tell us about that moment when villagers and family members took "into custody" the male member of the suspect's family?"

Ronaldo Coc, son of deceased
"Yes that happened yesterday when they were trying capture him. He got away and finally when the villagers notice that he has change his clothes. Then about an hour after that they found where he was and the villagers raid the area and they found another clothing. They found out that somebody is supporting him. That's when the villagers went to capture the family yesterday."

Daniel Ortiz
"Sir, aren't you afraid or does it concern you that the villagers might be acting illegally detaining these persons because your community is not the law. That's the job of the police."

Ronaldo Coc, son of deceased
"We understand that but then the police are there to assist. But how can you capture a man riding on the road and that man is in the bushes - you will never capture that man."

The murder has elicited position statements from a Toledo Women's Group and now Helpage Belize and the National Council on Ageing. The statement says that, quote, "Recently, there have been a number of physical assaults…on several our elderly Belizean citizens…resulting in the gruesome death of two elderly women and the infliction of near-death injuries to an elderly man." End quote. The release refers to Agripina Coc and Josephine Augustine in Hopkins, while her husband Dudley Augustine was beaten.

Helpage Belize says elderly citizens have a right to be protected from all forms of violence and abuse.


PUP Says Disband The GSU

We've featured complaints against the Gang Suppression Unit in our newscast regularly. Recently, showed you what residents from Lakeview Street and Kraal Road had to say about alleged excesses inflicted by officers from that embattled unit.

It must be noted that while there have been many complaints against the unit, in December of last year, the Government of Belize had to pay $175,000 compensation to residents of the George Street for excessive behaviour for a raid in August 2011. Then the National Security Ministry apologized to residents of Taylor's Alley in April 2012 for the unit's behaviour when they conducted a raid through that neighbourhood in 2011. Then there is businessman Miguel Menjivar in Belmopan who launched his own lawsuit against the Unit for the raid conducted on his house.

So, the Unit's behaviour has been called into the question many times in the past, and at the Cordel Hyde Convention on Saturday, the Former 2 Term Prime Minister and current Area representative for Fort George Said Musa called for the hard charging, elite unit to be abolished. Here's his controversial comments:

Rt. Hon. Said Musa
"I was looking at what the Amandala said in I believe it's an editorial or perhaps it's from the publisher that Belize today to be young and black in Belize City today is to be treated as a criminal or a potential criminal - that is the sad state of affairs that we are in today my friends. When we have these GSU people riding about in pick-up trucks with US flags on them and they go into your home and raid your yard and your home and lock the house and tell even the occupants, even the people who lives in that house you cannot see what we are searching for. They lock out the people and they carry out their search and they beat up people as well. We saw it on television night after night - this is what we are dealing with my friends. We are becoming a police state under Dean Barrow and the UDP. The GSU is out of control and if I have my way, if had anything to do with it, that is one of the first things the PUP will do - out with the GSU - abolish the GSU because that is no way to be treating people."

Well, his comments didn't sit very well with the new commander of the Gang Suppression Unit, Inspector Mark Flowers. After hearing the LOVE FM evening news on Saturday, Flowers decided to speak out against Musa. He condemned the weekend comments as irresponsible. That interview has resulted in the Opposition Party to call for his removal, and we'll get to that, shortly, but first, for context, here are his extraordinary remarks from yesterday:

Inspector Mark Flowers, Commander - GSU
"I have heard the comments on the midday news today and I was appalled. I was shocked and disappointed. I find it very frightening the comments made by the senior parliamentarian. The kind of comments are treacherous to say the very least and certainly unnecessary. What it does is two things, it gives people this sense that there is going to be impunity from crime if ever his wishes were achieved and two, it creates and it's going to create an environment of hostility whereby his comments; this parliamentarian is endangering people lives. He gave these people this false sense that they no longer have to do anything legally; they could disrespect or threaten the police or become confrontational with the police which is very dangerous. It's a very dangerous thing, God forbids it ever happens and I pray that it doesn't. This kind of remarks in a political convention has no place. There is no place for that and certainly as a former Prime Minister to be endangering people's lives so very blatantly it is very worrying. Is it now that you are courting votes or popularity by being irresponsible? Is it that you are not satisfied that there are enough problems in this country that the police needs to deal with these problems? Is it that you are asking the police to turn a blind eye? What is there to be achieved by those remarks? What purpose or good does it serve this nation? Whoever buys into this notion that they are to be given some form of impunity to commit crime…..the laws are the laws and if people are arrested for say, smoking a joint of weed those laws were not just made, those laws have been there even when this man was Prime Minister. If he finds it so disturbing why didn't he repeal these laws when he was Prime Minister? It begs the question why do people court popularity to the detriment of law abiding citizens? 90% of the people in this country are law abiding and are appreciative of what the GSU does. That small little group of criminals if you are saying to this country that when elected to office these criminals have nothing to worry about you have a very serious problem. I don't know that the GSU are a bunch of idiots who will go search a home and not ask the home owners to not be present when in fact the GSU has had some of the most remarkable success in the police's history in searches and discoveries and the removal of narcotic drugs and firearms off the streets. They have been successful in the court which means that they have been following the right procedures. To create or try to create this atmosphere of fear and panic is grossly irresponsible and disturbing."

On the heels of the new unit commander's remarks, the Opposition PUP has taken official offense to his comments, and they're now calling for his removal. The PUP sent out a press release and held a late evening conference to state why it is so important for them to take that stance. We challenged them on it, and here's how that conversation went:

Hon. Francis Fonseca, Leader of the Opposition
"We are demanding that Inspector Flowers be removed as the head of the Gang Suppression Unit. He does not enjoy the confidence of the Opposition, he does not enjoy the confidence of the many people that we represent and so we are demanding that the minister of national security and the prime minister act immediately to remove him from that position. His actions on the evening news were unbecoming of the head of a unit of our national security forces. As I said earlier we go further to say that it is time for them to heed the call for disbandment of the Gang Suppression Unit. We have long been calling for that, we now reiterate that call, repeat that call. It is time to disband that unit. They have lost the trust and confidence of the Belizean people and when any of our security forces, any unit of our security forces loses the trust and confidence of the Belizean people, it is time for that unit to go."

Daniel Ortiz
"Shouldn't Mr. Mark Flowers be able to respond to that as the head of that unit and shouldn't ge be free to say what he feels is his opinion as well?"

Rt. Hon. Said Musa
"Of course he is free to say what is his opinion."

Daniel Ortiz
"But you are calling for his removal now."

Rt. Hon. Said Musa
"No, but hold on, let me finish. He is free to give his opinion, to say well we don't agree with what the Honorable Said Musa said because of so and so and so. We are fighting crime. We are reducing this and that and that and that but he didn't do that. He launched an ad hominem attack on me because of the comments that I made at that convention and that's the difference. In other words, he did not behave as a serious respectable, professional Inspector of Police on this occasion."

Daniel Ortiz
"But sir, isn't that your opinion as well the matter of his...?"

Rt. Hon. Said Musa
"That is for the people to judge."

Daniel Ortiz
"On this particular topic, are you saying by making this stance here that anyone who has a dissenting voice against what anyone from the PUP has to say, that they can be targeted for a removal of sorts?"

Hon. Francis Fonseca, Leader of the Opposition
"Absolutely not, as you know we are subject to criticism and attacks by many people in positions of authority on a daily basis; agents of the government and we understand and respect what they are doing. In this case we have to understand that we are traveling down a very dangerous road when a member of our national security forces engages in what we view as a political attack on one of our representatives and a former prime minister of this country and a personal attack on him. Mr. Flowers as head of the GSU works for the people of this country. He is there to serve and protect the citizens of Belize. He is not there to do the work of Mr. Barrow and his political bosses, he is there to do the work on behalf of the citizens of Belize."

The official PUP statement says, quote, "Mr. Flower's comments were disrespectful, arrogant and unbecoming of the Head of a Unit of our security forces. The PUP cannot and will not support a National Security Team which Mr. Flowers forms a part of." End quote.

So, what does the new commander have to say about the reaction from the Opposition Party? We'll we caught up with him half hour before the news started this evening, and he dismissed our attempts to get a response. Here's how that went:

Daniel Ortiz
"The issue of your comments made on last night's newscast for Love FM. Do you stand by those?"

Inspector Mark Flowers, Commander - GSU
"I have told you that when I say something I mean it alright. Whatever I have said is what I have said. What had to be said is what is said. I will not go back and flag no dead horse, I've said that."

Daniel Ortiz
"There is currently a move by the Opposition party to seek you removal and you are just here briefly. What's your reaction hearing that?"

Inspector Mark Flowers, Commander - GSU
"I don't want to get into no discussion with the Opposition. There is a government in this country and the government decides what goes on right."

Daniel Ortiz
"One last question sir, there is this perception that the Gang Suppression Unit answers to some political superior. As the head of GSU, who does the GSU answer to? Can you give us a categorical assurance of who that person is?"

Inspector Mark Flowers, Commander - GSU
"The GSU answers to the commissioner of police. He is the constitutional head of this department. This is one police department, this is only a unit of the police department. The commissioner is the legal constitutional head of the department, so we answer to the commissioner."

Daniel Ortiz
"Sir, have there been any instances which you know of which the Gang Suppression Unit answers to someone above or outside of the commissioner of police?"

Inspector Mark Flowers, Commander - GSU
"I just told you. If you ask the same thing it is rhetorical - I will only answer you the same way that there is only one head of this police department and that is the commissioner Mr. Allen Whylie. The Gang Suppression Unit is a unit within the police department. I will not superintend over any unit that practices any degrading, inhumane, illegal, out of order performance - I will not sit by and watch that happen. I am saying to you that at this same token that I cannot be held accountable for those yesteryears incidents. I don't know about them, I was not here and I will account for the period that I am here and I will assure you that this, the brand new GSU, the first three letters in the alphabet GSU will continue to deliver that high attained performance and that it will be within the ambits of the what is legal, what is prescribed."

The PUP statement closes by saying, quote, "We call on the Minister of National Security and the Prime Minister to take immediate steps to have Inspector Mark Flowers removed as Head of the GSU and further call for the disbandment of the Unit which has lost the trust and confidence of the Belizean people."

Well, you won't be surprised to learn that, it ain't gonna happen! Even though we know that the Barrow Administration has itself wrestled with the difficulties created by the GSU, they look also at its unmatched performance in terms of seizures and arrests.

This evening, police minister John Saldivar sent us a statement by text message, saying, quote, "the press release sent out by the Peoples United Party defending its former and apparently current defacto leader is vintage PUP, circling the wagons around one of its own in spite of his obvious mis-speak in disparaging and disrespecting the Belize Police Department and its leaders." It continues,

The release is obviously intended to deflect attention from their leader's placating to the criminal elements in a weak and despicable attempt to gain votes even from criminals. The Minister of National Security, the Commissioner of Police, and the Police Department strongly condemns the inciteful and irresponsible utterance of the Member for Fort George and stands shoulder to shoulder with the leader and members of the GSU who are diligently and courageously serving the country and people of Belize by fighting the criminals who on a daily basis terrorize law abiding citizens." End quote,

We'll have more from that late evening interview with Inspector Flowers as he address the allegations made by the residents of Lake View Street and Kraal Road in our newscast last week.


When Is a Lecture a “Leckcha”? Ask Silvaana

The University of Belize’s Faculty of Education and Arts launched Di Silvaana Udz Lechka Series today at the Jaguar auditorium in Belmopan. This is part of a year round series of events hosted at UB entitled the Jaguar Salon Series. The objective of this Lecture series is to introduce students to writers and poets from Belize and abroad and to develop an appreciation for reading as well as the writing process. Courtney Weatherburne has more on the story.

Hezbolla Hysteria Has B’zean Arabs Losing Visas

The name Hezbollah has been in the local news more than once – always in reference to Arabs, mostly Lebanese who are accused of some illicit involvement. The most notable was the famous Rafic Labboun who used bogus documents and corrupt officials to get a Belizean passport in the name of a deceased Mennonite, Wilhelm Dick. US intelligence chatter said he could be associated with Hezbollah – and that may have started the whole ball rolling.

The National Bank, One Year Later

Today the National Bank celebrated its 1st Anniversary. Although it is a new bank, Deputy General Manager Janet Arnold says they are doing well so far but, conceded that, inevitably there will be difficulties in the initial phases of operation. She shared some of those challenges.

Resolution In Baby Deaths At KHMH

Who can forget last year when 13 babies died inside the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit?

Tenth: Examining The Historicity and The Mythology

For decades now, historians and intellectuals have been wrestling with the Tenth of September and the Battle of St. George’s Caye – critics question its validity both as a patriotic cornerstone and a historical assertion.

Belmopan Vendors Complain

There is a rift between the Belmopan city council and the capital’s market vendors. Last month, a very distraught market vendor came to our studios to tell her side of the story.

Stephan Gets "Cinco"

Tonight, 22 year old Stephan Anderson, a laborer of 7 Ebony Street, who was charged with firearm offences, is spending his first night of a 5 year sentence after he was convicted in Magistrate's Court.

The incident occurred around 7 on June 16, 2013. According to the evidence, Anderson was riding his bicycle on Vernon Street and when he turned into Lakeview Street and saw the police mobile coming from the opposite direction he turned around and headed on to Sibun Street. Sergeant Keith Clark, the arresting officer, testified that he saw when Anderson take a black object from the waist of his pants and throw it into an empty lot on Ebony Street. When the police retrieved the object it was a 9 millimeter pistol with 8 rounds of ammunition.

In his defence, Anderson testified and said that while he was riding on Ebony Street he got a text message and he took his cell phone out of the right front pocket of his pants. He denied that he threw an object into the empty lot. Chief magistrate Smith said that based on the evidence from the prosecution she found Anderson guilty of keeping an unlicensed firearm and keeping unlicensed ammunition.

Chief Magistrate Smith sentenced him to 5 years for each offence, but Anderson will only serve 5 years because the sentences are to run concurrently.


US Embassy Gives To Capital Cops

The US Embassy donated a kit of computer supplies to the Belmopan Police today. These items include 3 computers, peripherals along with 10 radios and polo shirts for the citizens on patrol. OC in Belmopan Howell Gillet also commented on another initiative: The Belmopan Police are partnering with the Kolbe Foundation in a clean-up campaign scheduled for next week. 20 inmates will clear the area near Riviera which is known as a crime prone area.




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