Thirty two year old freelance journalist Joseph Budna is no stranger to the news. We've heard about him narrowly escaping death by jumping out of a moving car to escape jackers, and even putting himself on the line to help a Belizean man get of a Guatemalan prison.
But in May of this year when he made the news, he wasn't doing any heroic act; instead, he was busted with almost 4 lbs of weed by Cayo police. Since then the freelancer who lives between Guatemala and Belize believes he is being constantly targeted by the San Ignacio police.
On Friday while he was driving his white SUV, he was stopped in front of the San Ignacio police station where he said he was disrespected as a citizen and locked up in jail for no reason at all.
Today 7news caught up with Budna at his attorney's office - who told us they are in the process of putting together a case to sue the San Ignacio police department.
Joseph Budna, freelance journalist
"I called on the media to let the Belizean people and those is high offices know that I am tired of the police department, one sector of the police department who tends to be targeting me every time I enter the country. I am a Belizean, I am from Belize and I am always going to be from Belize but I have been targeted over and over again by the police department especially those from down west."
"The latest encounter was on Friday night. I can tell you that I entered the country just less than 72 hours and on Friday night I was stopped by a police mobile in front of the San Ignacio police station and when I stop, I stepped out of the vehicle and the police officers jumped out. The police officer heading this team was Corporal Sierra along with PC Jones and other officers. They pointed with their long firearms towards my person to keep my hands up, insulting me using words that you won't imagine. They conducted a search upon me and found nothing illegal and as a result of that what happened is that they went to search the vehicle and found nothing illegal inside the vehicle. They handcuff me and took me to the police station. When they took me there they claim that they wanted to make a further search, they found nothing illegal."
"Corporal Sierra and PC Jones and the other officer started to talk and laugh with each other and then a phone call came in and they look at me and say 'you know what Budna, we are not satisfy with this search, so we will detain you for tonight and we will do a proper search on your vehicle tomorrow.' They detain me and took away my property and lock me down and at 9:30 the following morning which was Saturday morning November 5, PC Jones arrive in three quarter pants and t-shirt and instructed the diarist to take me out of my cell to have my car search again in my presence. PC Jones got the key, they open the car and search the SUV, they found nothing illegal. In less than 5 minutes they made that search. They damage two of the doors and damage other sector of the vehicle also and also damage under the vehicle whereby they ripped the guard that protects the engine of the vehicle. Founding nothing illegal, they wanted to hold the vehicle. PC Jones said that Cpl. Sierra instructed that they check with the INTERPOL and that they will hold the vehicle."
"I know I am not bringing anything into the country. I am not a fool, if I was a drug trafficker I would never even bring anything illegal in my vehicle if they had claim that that had caught something in my vehicle. I would never do that. There are other means, but because I am not a drug dealer, I am not bringing anything illegal in this country and so they are going to be in wonders. They know who the drug dealer is. They know where the drugs are coming from. They know who are trafficking drugs. They know exactly. They are playing games."
"They accused me of 2 pounds of marijuana but they fail to realize is that that marijuana did not belong to me and the court will set the record straight; where is the ex-police officer that I gave the ride to from the border to San Ignacio? Why did they allow him to go? Because they know who it belongs to. They did not find me with any drugs so they can continue to "papyshow" themselves all they want."
"I am being targeted a long before they alleged that they found drugs inside my vehicle that is at the police station because from time to time as a freelance journalist here in Belize and abroad I can tell you that was exposing corruption within the department that I love a lot because it is there to protect my mother, my sister, my brother, my family, your family and everybody family. Without the police we are nobody."
Budna's attorney is Hubert Elrington. He is suing the San Ignacio police department for unlawful detention. After the intense search was conducted police found nothing in Budna's SUV.