AMBERGRIS CAYE, BELIZE
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|San Pedro Daily||Saturday
April 19, 2014
|Front Page||Weather||foto of the day||Regional News||Classified Ads|
Shooting victims hurt while
trying to assist police
in their investigation
Two teenagers who were the victims of a shooting incident on northern Ambergris Caye are upset and making allegations against the police department. The two making the allegations are 18-year-old Christian Espat and 20-year-old Brian Espat, both fishermen of San Pedro Town. The allegations follow injuries received while in handcuffs as they headed by boat to the area in which they were shot at on Sunday April 13th. While the injuries are one aspect that has the brothers upset, they are not happy with the treatment they received at the hands of the police.
Brian Espat received visible bruises to the right hand and complained of chest and back pain, while Christian received a blow to the back and has been unable to stand or walk, having been placed under a five-day medical observation. According to Brian, on Monday April 14th, they voluntarily visited the San Pedro Police Station to give their report regarding a shooting incident on northern Ambergris Caye (please see previous story starting on Page 1). He claims that all they were doing was corroborating with police to help them solve the shooting incident, but alleges that police officers treated them as the perpetrators. “We visited the station because someone shot at us and police wanted information so they could make an arrest. After they took our report they asked us if we could take them to the area of the shooting so they can process the scene and we voluntarily agreed to go with them. Little did we know that they were going to handcuff us as if we did the shooting,” said Brian.
Brian further claims that they were taken onboard a vessel captained by members of the Belize Coast Guard and was accompanied by officers attached to the San Pedro Police Department. “They had no knowledge about how to navigate through the water. In fact they did not know how to get out of the channel and while going through the channel we almost capsized after a large wave hit the boat. The force of the wave hit us, almost flipping us overboard. I was handcuffed to my little brother and he got flung one way and I got flung the other way. The force broke the handcuff and injured my hand. My brother [Christian] got hurt in the back after he hit the rear of the boat [stern] and from the constant pounding of the waves. He was obviously seriously hurt because he was unable to move,” recounted Brian Espat. He explained that the captain of the boat continued navigating in very rough seas which Brian believes worsened his brother’s injuries. “I indicated to the officers that my brother was hurt, and they just laughed at us.”
Once at the crime scene, Brian alleges that the police officers abused their power and used them as shields. “When we reached at the area of the incident, the police indicated for us (two brothers) to go to the front. The officers indicated that if anyone should get shot, we should be the ones. Then they had me looking for the bullets as if I was the one that did the shooting. Since when do the police have the victims looking for evidence?” claims Brian. He alleges that he can identify all the officers and claims that the contingency included Sergeant Raymond Berry and Inspector Reynaldo Pook.
Father of the two men, Rolando Espat said that the incident highlights his constant complaints to the commander of the San Pedro Police Department, which is, that his children are being targeted including members the police department. “We are not against the police officers doing their job, but what we want is for them to do their job fairly. I am tired of the San Pedro Police because not only are they targeting my sons, but clearly they are looking in collusion to hurt my children. Twice a week, they come and arrest my children and have them locked up for 48 hours and then release them with no charge. For this year alone, my children have been picked up over 50 times, mostly by Corporal Luis Rodriguez and they are never charged. Now we have this incident, what is up with these officers?” said an obviously upset Rolando Espat.
Christian Espat was seen by a medical doctor at the Dr Otto Rodriguez San Pedro PolyClinic II and a medical form was obtained from the police since the family intends to bring legal proceedings against the police department. Despite having no broken bones or internal injuries, Christian has been unable to stand or walk due to severe pain and has since been placed on a five-day observation.
Officer Commanding the San Pedro Police Station Assistant Superintendent of Police Luis Castellanos would not go into details but confirmed that indeed such an incident occurred in which the Espat brothers were hurt. He indicated that in fact his officers were also injured when a large wave hit the vessel in which they were travelling in. When asked about the allegations that the victims made, claiming that they were used as shields and handcuffed while assisting police in their investigation, Castellanos said he was busy and promised to reply at another time.
It is uncertain why the Espat brothers were handcuffed, when in a police report disseminated on Monday April 14th by San Pedro Police the two brothers are identified shooting victims.
Jealousy Led To
Caye Caulker Stabbing
And Caye Caulker police are also investigating a stabbing. This one happened on Tuesday night on the island. 24 year old Aquiles Canche and 31 year old James Crawford got into a fight at 10:30 near the village cemetery - and a local resort. The dispute centered over a female Kathy Balam. She was reportedly hanging out and talking with Canche when Crawford who she has a relationship with came upon them and stabbed Canche in the back. Canche then stoned Crawford with a bottle of rum. But the bottle didn't even break, and Crawford continued to stab Canche 5 more times, twice in the back, once to his lower stomach, once in his arm pit, and once in the lower stomach.
Neighbors rushed Canche to the clinic but he was in bad shape, and at the height of the night, island Police had to find a boat to carry Canche to the KHMH. He received emergency surgery and is in stable condition. Police have not been able to get a statement from him.
They tracked down Crawford later that night at the south end of the island. He is detained pending directives from the DPP on charges.
Police had to close off the beachfront for one popular local resort while they waited for the scenes of crime team from Belize City - thus the jarring image of crime scene tape around sunbathing chairs. The stabbing happened right where the beachfront meets the pier.
An intensive search of the wider area turned up the alleged weapon, which is a 9 and a half inch kitchen knife. That was found in a bushy lot adjoining the cemetery.
San Pedro PolyClinic
receives three tuk-tuk
The Dr Otto Rodriguez San Pedro PolyClinic II has been equipped with three health support vehicles that will serve as ambulances on the island. The small three-wheeled motorcycle-type mobiles, widely referred to as Tuk-Tuk (Auto rickshaws) ambulances, are part of the batch of 26 that were donated from Dubai, United Arab Emirates. The support vehicles valued at $300,000, were handed over to the Ministry of Health on Monday April 14th and on hand for the occasion was Pablo Marin, Minister of Health.
According to a release from the Ministry of Health, the donation was secured by the Minister of Tourism, Civil Aviation and Culture Manuel Heredia Jr., and the Attorney General and Minister of Foreign Affairs Wilfred Elrington. “The health support vehicles are three-wheeled motorcycles with an attached covered unit equipped with seating and a stretcher to transport patients. The vehicles will not be used as a replacement for conventional ambulances, but will support the Ministry in the transportation of patients for healthcare services and coordinated assistance with our partners at health promotion events, social events, mobile clinics use and home visits. The vehicles will be distributed to, priority regional and community hospitals across the country where there are transportation and logistical challenges; and also to areas that have a more dispersed high risk population group,” stated the release.
Three of the vehicles were sent to the public health facilities on Ambergris Caye, while one is going to Caye Caulker. While it will not replace conventional ambulances on mainland Belize, on the two islands they will serve as such since none of the islands have an ambulance. Speaking to the press at the event, Heredia said the tuk-tuk ambulances are perfect for the island’s need. “After they were assembled, I can see that they are perfect for the needs that we have. They are not sophisticated, but it is something that can bring more comfort to tourists or our locals, up north or down south of San Pedro and including the area like San Pedrito, San Juan and downtown San Pedro. So I am much appreciative of the embassy, and also Minister Elrington who was instrumental in making sure they arrived over here properly,” stated Heredia.
For his part, Marin said that the tuk-tuk ambulances are not a long term solution, but will help reduce the challenges in rural, hard-to-access areas. “This is a support vehicle; this is for areas where we want to do outreach work or like – San Pedro Town which is small. So we can leave one of these mobile units in different areas so it will be faster for them to reach the clinic… If Dubai is using these kinds of vehicles that means it’s very convenient, [but] they are not a long term solution.”
The mobiles have a 250 cubic centimeter engine comparable to LiFan motorbikes and have a lifespan of between three to five years in good environmental conditions.
Linda Miller is the New Canadian
Warden for San Pedro Town
Linda Miller, San Pedro Town resident has been appointed as Canadian Warden for San Pedro Town, Ambergris Caye. Miller, a born and raised Canadian, has been living on La Isla Bonita for the past seven years and is the operator of UnBelizeable Property Management. As of January, 2014 Miller is a representative of the Canadian Consulate in Belize, and has been tasked to assist Canadians travelling to or living on the island.
Miller, through the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade of Canada, informs the general Canadian populace that there is an upgraded system for the registration of Canadians living abroad. All Canadians living or travelling to Belize are urged to register, as this provides vital information to the Canadian Government to assist in case of an emergency while in another country. The system also provides information on emergencies at home (Canada) while out of the country. The re-registering process only applies for those who registered before December 14, 2008. Registrations can be made online at www.travel.gc.ca/register.
To learn more about registering or in need of assistance while in San Pedro, contact Linda Miller at 626-6749 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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