7 News http://www.7newsbelize.com/ en-US Sun, 30 Apr 2017 18:38:19 +0000 Fri, 28 Apr 2017 00:00:00 +0000 FeedWriter City’s First Gun Murder Victim in 18 Days Is A Cabbie http://www.7newsbelize.com/sstory.php?nid=40172 This time, the victim is 48 year old Santiago Rodriguez who was found dead in his vehicle on Unity Street this afternoon. According to reports, residents in the area a heard a single gunshot at around 10:00 this morning. But - at the time - nobody checked to see what happened until around 2 in the afternoon, when somebody noticed his lifeless body slumped over in the driver's seat, and a bullet-hole through the windshield.

Superintendent Alejandro Cowo spoke to us at the scene told us the findings of the preliminary investigations...

Insp. Alejandro Cowo, Southside Police "Sometime after 2:30 today, we received information of a male person inside of a vehicle. As a result we proceeded to Unity Street where we found a male person inside of his vehicle, a white 4Runner, apparently with a gunshot wound to the back of his head. The information we have so far is that he had left from his house sometime this morning and normally he was doing his taxi runs when sometime after 10am or 11am in the morning a gunshot was heard in this area, but apparently somebody discovered the person inside the vehicle sometime after 2:30 this afternoon. The person has been identified as Santiago Rodriguez of a Tigres Street address."

Reporter "Would that suggest that he was inside the vehicle all this while until 2:30 when he was found?"

Insp. Alejandro Cowo, Southside Police "Yes he was inside of the vehicle from this morning."

Reporter "And the ignition on."

Insp. Alejandro Cowo, Southside Police "No, the vehicle was not running."

Reporter "I know it's preliminary, because you guys just processed the scene, but what is the investigation showing so far?"

Insp. Alejandro Cowo, Southside Police "Well so far we can tell you at this moment is that apparently it look like a robbery. There are some items missing from the male person, but yet we are confirming and at this moment we are searching the vehicle to see if we could find other things that belongs to him. We suspect that the person that did the vehicle was inside the vehicle behind the driver's seat."

Police found one expended shell inside the vehicle. No suspects have been identified yet. Taxi-man Elbert Gillett was found dead in early March. Both he and Rodriguez were shot in the head. ]]> Fri, 28 Apr 2017 00:00:00 +0000 Accusation Against Admiral Debunked http://www.7newsbelize.com/sstory.php?nid=40173 As we told you, the Petty officer accused the Admiral of verbal abuse, and more seriously, of threatening words. He says that the Admiral called him into an office on last Thursday afternoon, and they discussed a Facebook post. He alleged that Admiral Borland verbally abused, and threatened him with the loss of job and life.

As you are aware, he was not accusing just another officer, he was accusing the commander of the Belize Coast Guard, and so Assistant Police Commissioner Chester Williams handled the investigation into the complaint personally. Today, he gave a press briefing to say that there is no evidence to back up the officer's accusations. Here's how he explained why:

ACP Chester Williams, OC - Eastern Division South "Mr. Randy King who is a petty officer in the Belize National Coast Guard had made a report to us that on 20th April, 2017, he was summoned to an office where he met with Mr. Borland who is the admiral of the national coast guard and in that meeting threats and other insulting language were used to him. he indeed requested court action into his complaint and we have launched an investigation into the matter based on directives that we have received from the commissioner of police and that investigation have caused us to record statements from persons who were around when what Mr. King claimed to have occurred took place. Mr. Borland was also brought in and interviewed and he also gave a statement and from our investigation we have found that there is no merit to Mr. King's complaint and Mr. Borland statement has been collaborated by the statement of others who were present, to the effect that Mr. King was merely brought in before the commander of the coast guard about a matter internal within the coast guard and he was reprimand and no threatening language was used as allege by King and our investigation have also revealed that as well."

"So based on investigation, there is not sufficient evidence to proceed to lay charges against Mr. Borland or anybody per say in respect to Mr. King's complaint."

Reporter "Mr. King said that he has 2 witnesses. Were these 2 witnesses interviewed?"

ACP Chester Williams, OC - Eastern Division South "Yes the 2 witnesses were interviewed, they were brought in. One of them refused to give a statement and he have a right to give statement or not. The other gave a statement and his statement collaborated the story of Mr. Borland."

So, is this just a malicious complaint? That's what the press asked the Commander of the Eastern Division South, and he says that he is unable to say so conclusively, but he said that he tried to be fair to both parties, even offering to mediate the dispute between the Officer King and Admiral Borland. He says the Admiral showed up, but King didn't:

ACP Chester Williams, OC - Eastern Division South "I had even gone further to set up a mediation between Mr. Borland and Mr. King, to see how we could the two parties to be able to understand each other better. Mr. Borland who is the commandant of the coast guard, he showed up for the mediation session, but Mr. King didn't show up. Even though time off was given to him from work to appear for the mediation session. He went about his business. So it would appear to me he have no interest to be able to try and resolve the matter amicably. I am here to be fair to people who come to us in making complaints and I have exercise fairness with both parties where this complaint was concerned."

At the time of our interview with King last week, he swore to us that 2 officers saw the entire incident unfold, and he claimed that one of those officers was willing to back up his claims. Well, police say that they spoke with both those officers, and one of them gave an account which supports Borland's innocence of any abuse of threats. The other officer chose to remain silent and avoid giving any statement.

So, we asked the commander about the possibility that these officers were intimidated by the prospect of speaking against their boss. Here's how he answered that one:

Daniel Ortiz, 7News "It could be that exactly that is being allege here that this is a malicious complaint from Mr. King, but it could also be that this officer - this is the admiral, this is his boss, why would be speak against his boss and their stories lined up because he doesn't want to cause any friction for himself. Have the police and yourself considered that possibility?"

ACP Chester Williams, OC - Eastern Division South "We have looked at that and one thing we must understand is that the police, the coast guard and the BDF are 3 disciplinary organization. We are all governed by our respective statute, our acts and so forth and under the statute of each of these organizations, it does give the commander of the coast guard, the commissioner of police and the commandant of the BDF authority to discipline any officer who step out of line and from our investigation Mr. King was one of such officer who had step out of line and he was brought in to be spoken to by the commandant and again, when we looked at the course of action with respect to disciplining an officer, there are several course that one can take; one can be place on disciplinary charges and be taken before, in the case of the coast guard, the services commission. In the case of the police, they can go before a tribunal, if it's a junior officer. A senior officer goes before the service's commission and in the case of the BDF, junior officers go before the commander of the BDF and senior officers, before the service's commission. And the outcome of those tribunals can be a fine, can be a dismissal and can be a reprimand, but an officer like Mr. Borland, the commandant of the coast guard, can choose not to take an officer before the services commission and can reprimand that officer verbally and from what our investigation is revealing, that is what he did. The officer had committed a breach of discipline and he brought him into his office in the company of senior officer of the coast guard and simply verbally reprimand the officer for his misconduct and that is well within the ambits of the coast guard regulations and again, to answer what you have said, I would want to think too that if Mr. Borland wanted to threaten Mr. King or to use defamatory or derogatory language to him, he would not have brought him in in the presence of other officers. He would have did it to him alone."

We tried reaching King for comment this evening, but we were unsuccessful. ]]> Fri, 28 Apr 2017 00:00:00 +0000 Social Security Staffers’ Shirt Protest http://www.7newsbelize.com/sstory.php?nid=40174 The Christian Workers Union, which is their bargaining agent, say that there are 2 very important points in the negotiations for which there is an impasse. The first relates to vacation grants, and the reduction in the amount of vacation days that employees are to be entitled to.

The management wants to eliminate vacation grants for new hires in the future, and they want to reduce the number of vacation days. This proposed change doesn't affect the current employees, who will continue to get their vacation benefits, but the union is sees that as union busting.

The quiet protest almost caused employees to be sent home with a half of their day pay cut, but the management and the union managed to defuse the situation.

This morning, we found CWU President Dale Trujeque at the Belize City Branch, interceding on behalf of his members who supported the protest, and he told us why these 2 points in the CBA negotiations are cause for such an action. Here's what he had to say:

Dale Trujeque, President - CWU "For a second week the members have decided they would wear their protest t-shirts again, because while it is managements' view that we may be approaching an agreement, our view is that we are at an impasse. I had said in an earlier show that there has been agreements on several points already, but the key points, the sticking points have to do with the money issues and for members in any of these environments, the most important thing are the things that relate to money and so we are supposed to have a meeting coming up next week and hopefully management's position will change in respect to the proposed reduction in vacation leave and the elimination of the vacation grant, which are significant sums of money and I'll repeat it and I know management doesn't like this, but I will repeat it. Don't tell me of wont affect my members who are employed here right now, it will affect the newcomer. That I stand by it is union busting. It will prevent us from maintaining a membership from levels where we have it currently. Nobody will want to join us again."

"So today unlike last week management has become stricter. Today they decided they would ask or members to leave who are wearing these shirts, they need to go home and change and I know they look at that as giving the staff a lawful instruction and I understand that is what the handbook says that management can do if you don't show up in your uniform and our view is to tell them to stay. Because there was another option for us to do a go slow which affects productivity. We did not want to do anything that would affect the productivity at staff and the work for SSB. We felt the easiest way to do it was to wear the t-shirts. Nobody gets hurt, their work gets done. But if wearing the t-shirts is an issue, then let us talk rather than you push us to implement measures that will affect the productivity."

"I came over because members were texting me and telling me they were telling them that they need to go and so I came over and I just had a meeting with the branch manager and she was really kind to receive me, because she could have refused to see me and that the position people can take. She was kind to see me, that Miss Dakers and she explained their position and I explained our and she reminded me that they are the employer and I respect that fully." ]]> Fri, 28 Apr 2017 00:00:00 +0000 SSB Says It Was Blindsided http://www.7newsbelize.com/sstory.php?nid=40175 He told us that these changes are not "union busting" as the CWU President describes it, and that the management believes that it is acting in the best interest of the workers who contribute to the Social Security Fund. Here's how he put it:

Doug Singh, Chairman - SSB Board of Directors "He is saying that the critical issues for the employees are money issues. Those money issues in particular and he mention this being the elimination of the vacation grant and the reduction in the number of vacation days. I find his comments quite interesting because none of the employees, the union members or any employees at Social Security will be affected by the proposal of the board and management."

"What the board and management is proposing is future hires at SSB will not be entitled to a vacation grant and will not be entitled to the same amount of vacation that current hires are entitled to. Employees at Social Security, new hires - if you are at a junior level you get 20 vacation days right off the bat. That is 4 weeks of vacation for new hires. For senior people its 25 vacation days - 5 weeks, and we are saying that rather high. It contributes to inefficiency in the organization and it's really costly to the organization. There is nothing wrong with having 2 tiers of vacation entitlement. Most institutions do. When you start you get 2 weeks and you work for 3 year or 5 years and you get 3 weeks and you for 10 years and you get 4 weeks. There is a growth program under what you are entitled to that you earn over a period of time. Vacation grant has been eliminated by the government of Belize. It's a thing of the past. But we did not want to undermine any of the existing employees. So vacation grants for all existing employees continue. It is only new hires that would not be entitle to vacation grant."

"We are therefore taken aback that the union would take the position that we are negotiating for potential employees of SSB. Potential new hire, potential union members rather than looking after the interest or the primary interest of those people who are the union members who are unaffected by the proposal. So really the objective is to try to reduce the operating cost at SSB."

"Salaries and compensation packages is a huge portion of our administrative expense and we have to do what we can to reduce this, so that we can safeguard the fund and so that we can ensure that the beneficiaries can get the best possible benefit from the funds."

"And the end of the day, these perks are being paid for by contributors to the fund who don't get these perks and we as a board, we as management, we as staff, everybody including the union staff members have an obligation to ensure that we do right by the people who contribute to this fund and that's what we are trying to do and we are trying to do it in a responsible way where we do not undermine the benefits of the existing employees and that we set new standards for new hires that can be more equitable, or can be more palpable or affordable by the fund."

Singh also made the point to us that currently the vacation grant that employees are paid costs the fund, and contributors, a whopping half a million dollars. HE SAYS management is only seeking to rein in spending so that you get more from social security, while protecting the interests of current employees. ]]> Fri, 28 Apr 2017 00:00:00 +0000 Treasury Not Happy About Being Pushed Out Of Central Bank http://www.7newsbelize.com/sstory.php?nid=40176 The Central Bank of Belize sent out a press release today saying, quote, "Due to the expanding role and responsibilities of the Central Bank, it has become necessary for the Bank to acquire more floor space to accommodate an increased work force. As a result, the Central Bank is collaborating with the Government in seeking alternative, suitable accommodations for the Treasury Department."

It closes, "The Central Bank's Management is fully committed to a seamless transition and continues to partner with the Treasury Department in this process."

Treasury is currently located on the second floor of the Central Bank. No fixed timeline has been set for the move. ]]> Fri, 28 Apr 2017 00:00:00 +0000 Man Convicted Of Jailhouse Murder http://www.7newsbelize.com/sstory.php?nid=40177 Since Eck did not kill himself and Smith was the only person in the cell with him, Justice Gonzalez concluded that Smith had killed Eck and he found Smith guilty of murder. The court has set Friday, May 5, as the date when a case management will be held with regard to sentencing.

Smith was represented by attorney Oscar Selgado. Crown Counsel Kileru Awich represented the Crown. Smith's trial began on November 17, 2016. ]]> Fri, 28 Apr 2017 00:00:00 +0000 The Botes Ban, The Union Ouster http://www.7newsbelize.com/sstory.php?nid=40178 Well, no more says the Immigration Department. They put out a strong release today, quoting the law, which says, "No Person Shall Enter Belize Elsewhere than at an Approved Port or Place of Entry"

It goes on to add, quote, "The public is hereby advised that the Immigration & Nationality Services Department shall enforce strict compliance with these laws and shall prosecute any person(s) acting in violation of the above laws, in respect to crossings at Botes, La Union and any other crossings which are not approved as such."

That's strong talk against what is a way of life in the north and today, via telephone we asked the director what it means. Here's how she put it:..

Diana Locke, Director of Immigration "These areas are not official border crossings point. Customs has allowed, I think at the La Union area for the crossing for people who live in the border town areas and I expect that will continue. We are not interfering in that, but we are trying to have people desist from traveling to those areas who come all the way from the south of the country, because they are not proper immigration port set up on either side of those areas and they are declared as border crossing areas. I should also add that up in the Blue Creek area, that crossing is on private property."

Jules Vasquez, 7News "So now, it's a long weekend, many nortenos will as they normally do, be going to Botes and they would be going to La Union as well. What would be your message to those people?"

Diana Locke, Director of Immigration "We would certainly like to encourage them to travel to Mexico, but certainly using our official border crossing and they will be having checkpoints over the weekend to discourage people from going in those areas."

Locke says they will have up roadblocks to make sure buses and private vehicles do not approach those border crossings. ]]> Fri, 28 Apr 2017 00:00:00 +0000 New Metrology Lab Is First In Region http://www.7newsbelize.com/sstory.php?nid=40179 Courtney Weatherburne reporting Most shoppers don't usually make a big fuss about checking if they are actually getting the amount of product they are paying for.

Consumers just expect that they will be getting 10 or 5 pounds of flour, the precise amount of soap powder. And the 400 grams marked on the packaging of their favorite chocolate drinks.

The Bureau of Standards is responsible for making sure this is the case through what is called legal metrology.

This type of measuring is enforced to protect consumers from being fleeced, like what happened in 2011 when our 7news team discovered that consumers were getting far less than the legally prescribed 100 or 50 pounds of butane.

But with the newly opened state of the art metrology office in Belmopan, the Bureau of Standards will be able to better carry out these duties, but more importantly, the Bureau will now be able to adjust the weights used by manufacturers and other enterprises.

David Tomlinson, Technical Officer, CROSQ "When you are baking your bread, you take measurements, 2 cups of flour, whatever sugar right, those measurements are important to you because they guarantee the quality of your bread, now the Bureau will have the capability to help you to ensure that those measurements are accurate, so that cup is actually measuring a cup and not a cup and a quarter."

That is called industrial metrology and all that is needed is inside this polished lab.

Jose Trejo, Director, Belize Bureau of Standards "The Metrology Laboratory is the first calibration facility of its kind in Belize and let me add, it also has the proud distinction of being the first purpose built, state of the art metrology facility within the Caribbean Community."

There are 6 laboratory units. The fine mass lab is one of the principal units. These comparators or high precision scales are the main features in this lab. They are used to measure smaller weights such as these.

Industries such as BSI or companies like CPBL can now bring their weights that they use on their scales to be adjusted in the Grand Mass Lab.

This scale for instance can measure weights up to a ton.

Liquid measuring devices such as thermometers are calibrated in the Temperature lab using this highly sophisticated platinum resistance thermometer.

Now, to maintain and preserve these delicate devices, there has to be a specific balance in temperature.

Jose Trejo, Director, Belize Bureau of Standards "Each laboratory is then supported by its own air handling unit located on the Southern corner that lies immediately behind the main entrance, most impressive is the fresh air unit that is uniquely designed to monitor fluctuations in ambient temperature across labor while heating and cooling the laboratory to ensure stable conditions."

While all this might just seem like fancy foreign equipment, the operations at this metrology lab will impact customers, the local marketplace and trade.

H.E Malgorzata Wasilewska, EU Ambassador "Whether we like it or not, there are standards that guide every aspect of our lives, as consumers it is very important to have technical guidelines of specification that can be used consistently to ensure that the materials, goods and services that we purchase or otherwise access of provide are fit for purpose."

"This is however, a basic element of quality insurance and ensuring customer satisfaction, for economies that rely heavily on exports for foreign exchange and for economic growth the extent at which they adhere to standards can make the difference between poverty and prosperity for citizens."

The lab was funded by the European Union at a cost of 3.2 million Belize dollars. ]]> Fri, 28 Apr 2017 00:00:00 +0000 Eldon Out Of Jail On Bail http://www.7newsbelize.com/sstory.php?nid=40180 After 10 days on remand, Williams was offered a bail of $10,000 today by Justice Adolph Lucas. Williams was granted bail on the condition that he attends San Pedro Magistrate's Court on June 21 and on any other day the magistrate orders him to reappear; that he reports to San Pedro Police Station every Friday, commencing Friday, May 5, until the matter has concluded; and that he does not interfere with any of the prosecution witnesses, particularly the complainant - who we should not lives in California. Williams was represented by attorney Dickie Bradley. ]]> Fri, 28 Apr 2017 00:00:00 +0000 UB Research Digging Deeper http://www.7newsbelize.com/sstory.php?nid=40181

The University also announced the upcoming introduction of their Bachelor's and Master's in Business Administration programs. ]]> Fri, 28 Apr 2017 00:00:00 +0000 Did Independence Village Child Die Due To Bad Prescription From Private Clinic? http://www.7newsbelize.com/sstory.php?nid=40182 Eugenie Gabourel, Administrator - Independence Polyclinic "That baby was brought to our clinic by the police officer already dead. A full investigation was done by the public health nurse."

Jules Vasquez, 7News "This private clinic in Independence, is it still open"

Eugenie Gabourel, Administrator - Independence Polyclinic "As of today our team again went and I know when I left there earlier this afternoon, they were still there removing the prescription drugs."

Now, the Ministry has to investigate all deaths of children who are younger than five, but this case stood out, because the child was given a bad prescription at a private clinic in Independence. The Doctor- who previously managed the Estrella Clinic is no longer there and it is run by his wife, who is a nurse, but who has not been approved to practice in Belize by the Nursing Council. As you heard, the pharmacy at this clinic has now been closed down. But that's because they apparently made a mix up - and gave the child two medicines but mixed up the dosages on the two bottles. The Ministry of Health says this may have contributed to his death. They say it is unclear who will bring civil or criminal charges - since the infants family will not sue and the Ministry has to get the opinion of the Attorney General. ]]> Fri, 28 Apr 2017 00:00:00 +0000 North American Couple Still Missing http://www.7newsbelize.com/sstory.php?nid=40183 Fri, 28 Apr 2017 00:00:00 +0000 PM Says Farewell To Chamber http://www.7newsbelize.com/sstory.php?nid=40184 The PM gave an overview of the economy, and upcoming projects, concluding, quote, "Belize can certainly expect higher than average growth over the next 24 months."

And then he added, "Since this will be my last opportunity to address your annual gathering, I close by saying how thankful I am for what has in the main been a constructive relationship with the Chamber."

We would have wished to have video of the speech, but the Chamber, which says that it is all for transparency, advocated just the opposite when it kicked our news team out, saying we couldn't tape the event, and even asked that we leave the lobby area. ]]> Fri, 28 Apr 2017 00:00:00 +0000 In A Month OF Rogue Cops, They Were Stellar http://www.7newsbelize.com/sstory.php?nid=40185 But, while those officers have been giving the department a bad name, there are hundreds of police men and women who keep performing admirably on the job. They do so without praise or recognition, and so today, the Department decided that they would award 4 such officers from Belize City.

Each officer was chosen from each of the 4 precincts, and each was awarded for their exemplary performance in each of the 4 months of this year so far. We got a chance to speak with these officers today about the good work they've been doing:

As you saw in our interview, Zitro International partnered with the police department to give these officers a token of appreciation. That included a small cash prize. ]]> Fri, 28 Apr 2017 00:00:00 +0000 Cowpen, A Road Runs Through It http://www.7newsbelize.com/sstory.php?nid=40186 Hon. Godwin Hulse, Minister of Agrilculture "And when you see a beautiful road, when you see electricity running down and 3 phase at that, when you see lovely buildings at the front, when you see nice lake, when you see high school, it lifts everybody and when it lifts everybody, it gives that energy to produce and to do better and to keep the industry going."

"This is a highway right into Central America, without a bump on the road. Especially if you go through Jalacte without a bump on the road and that's a magnificent achievement. Thank you EU. You can get there without a bump on the road and that is the way to go. We can pull trucks into Central America."

H.E Malgorzata Wasilewska, EU Ambassador "Together the EU has supported the agricultural sector in Belize on specifically related sugar and banana works to the value of close to 100 million Euros in recent years. That's quite a lot. It's almost 20 years of support."

Hon. Rene Montero, Minister of Works "This partnership between the European Union and the government of Belize will soon see the start of a new project which is the paving on the Hopkins Village streets with improvements to the weather system of approximately 3 kilometers with upgrades of 10 school bathrooms, health centers for Independence and Bella Vista, water systems for 4 villages along the Hummingbird Highway and improvements through the entire country of Belize. No single partnership has born so much fruit."

The upgrade cost $ 4 million Belize Dollars. and if you want to know why these few miles are so important, 20% of all bananas exported by Belize are produced by Go Banana Farms 1, 2, and 3. Three quarters of the 600 workers on that farm live in Cow Pen. ]]> Fri, 28 Apr 2017 00:00:00 +0000 The Mayor Will Labour http://www.7newsbelize.com/sstory.php?nid=40187

The event starts at 5:45 AM on Monday at the BTL PARK.

Fri, 28 Apr 2017 00:00:00 +0000