Chayben Bounahra – he was as known as he was notorious, and tonight
his death is a most confounding mystery. Bounahra was shot to the head on Sunday
morning in Cayo and died four hours later at the KHMH. The question is, was
he killed or did he shoot himself? – and even if he did was it accidental,
or suicidal? There are many plots and possibilities that have been put out there,
all based on the central belief that Ben Bounahra would not kill himself. But
police say otherwise, they say all the evidence suggests that, indeed, he may
have taken his own life.
Jacqueline Godwin went to Cayo today and she found that a night that
ended in tragedy started out happily enough at a staff party for Belize Natural
Energy employees. Bounahra was there with his girlfriend who worked with the
oil company. Here’s where things went wrong.
It all happened after three on Sunday morning inside the San Ignacio Resort
Hotel where thirty four year old Chayben Bounahra was staying with his girlfriend
twenty two year old Evita Bedran, a resident of Central Farm in the Cayo District.
The couple had just retired to their room when the sound of a single gunshot rang out. It is still not certain what transpired inside room 101 but initial
reports are that the girlfriend was inside the bathroom when the boyfriend shot
himself in the head.
Officer in Charge of Cayo Police Formation Sr. Supt. Paul Wade says when the
police arrived on the scene Chayben Bounahra was lying face up on the bed in
an unconscious state. He was bleeding from a single gunshot wound to the head.
Bounahra was first transported to the San Ignacio Hospital and then onto the
Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital where he died some four hours later.
Sr. Supt Paul Wade, OIC - Cayo Police Formation
“At the scene the police recovered one 9 milimeter pistol with 12
live rounds of ammunition. The police also recovered one expended 9 mm shell
from the scene.”
Police say only his girlfriend may have answers as to. why Chayben Bounahra
Sr. Supt Paul Wade,
“The only witness is Ms. Bedran. She is currently being questioned
in relation to what might have taken place. On arrival at the scene the police was told by Ms. Bedran that Mr. Bounahra shot himself because he was upset.
That is as far as I know at this point in time. The scene has been processed,
swabs were taken from both Mr. Bounahra and Ms. Bedran for testing.
That is the only comment because she was in a state of shock and we did
not talk to her properly at that time. That is being done today in Belize City
because she has also been admitted in the hospital in Belize City. But she only
uttered that to the police when they arrived. That’s all I can say at
There is no sign of any struggle in the room and as I said there is no
indication that anyone else other than Mr. Bounahra and his friend was present
in the room.”
Upon returning to their hotel room the couple reportedly got into a misunderstanding
because earlier that night Chayben Bounahra was involved in two altercations.
Sr. Supt Paul Wade,
“We have interviewed some witnesses which confirm Mr. Bounahra was
involved in an altercation; first one at the Benque Rock disco in Benque Viejo
sometime before this incident occurred and another incident in the parking lot
of the San Ignacio Hotel.”
In the altercation at the Benque Rock Night Club, Bounahra was reportedly struck
in the middle of his head. Bedran and Bounahra had returned to the San Ignacio
Resort Hotel so he could change his shirt. It is then reported that he got into
another fight in the parking lot. He reportedly pointed his nine millimetre
pistol at Richard Acosta. BNE employee Richard Arnold intervened but Bounahra
allegedly pistol whipped him on the forehead. Arnold received several stitches
and police say more than likely Bounahra would have been charged for aggravated
Sr. Supt Paul Wade,
“Basically they were alleging that Mr. Bounahra assaulted them with
the weapon, with a weapon. So they were at the station making a report against
Mr. Bounahra at the time when the shooting occurred at the San Ignacio Hotel.”
Police say that so far all evidence on hand strongly suggests that Bounahra
took his own life – either intentionally or accidentally, but they cannot
rule out the possibility of a homicide until the result of a post mortem which
is scheduled for Tuesday. Jacqueline Godwin reporting for 7NEWS.
And so while police believe Bou-Nahra shot himself, his family and
friends strongly dispute that. Though they declined to comment on camera, the
family issued a statement this evening. It says, quote: “the family
wishes to state for the record certain facts in response to allegations circulating
in the media: 1. No post mortem has yet been conducted and as such, no definite
cause of death can be concluded as at today’s date by anyone. 2. The family
wishes to observe the initial post mortem and as such, has retained the services
of a forensic expert on standby as the family representative at the relevant
time. While this has been known to happen in the past, it is not being
allowed in the present instance.”
And that’s it from the family; the release says this is the formal
and only version of what the family has to say at this time. And it raises a
few points: police say they had nothing to do with the decision not to allow
oversight from any forensic expert. They say it is the decision of the Forensic
Pathologist Mario Estradabran. Estradabran today told us he had no comment.
Another point we note is that the family’s release speaks about an initial
post mortem which tells us that they plan to do their own after Estradabran’s
one. But still, a great deal hinges on that Estradabran post mortem which is
scheduled for tomorrow afternoon at 1:30. We’ll have the result for you
in tomorrow night’s news.