6 BDF soldiers and one cop arrested for murder

Seven BDF soldiers and one police officer have been arrested for murder.  On Saturday February 24th, police arrested and charged  29 year old Police Constable Lennart Cajun who is assigned to Special Patrol Unit and  BSAG. Along with the police officer 6 BDF soldiers were also charged with the murder of Ariel Salazar who was beaten to death at his home in Orange Walk Town.  The BDF soldiers are 28 year old Mateo Bolon,  31 year old,  Patrick Villagran, 26 year old Patrick Diego,  33 year old, Elvis Cob, 26 year old Edmar Petillo,  21 year old Bladimir Escarraga and 23 year old, Francis Sho . All 7 soldiers are assigned to BSAG and have all been charged  for the crime of  Murder and Attempted Murder. Among the accused men are 1 Sergeant, 2 Corporals, and 4 Privates.  Last week Thursday, Last Thursday, 46 year old Ariel Salazar Audinette was beaten by masked men in camouflage uniforms. It is alleged that the lawmen burst into the home at around   four o’clock on the morning, inquiring about a stolen cell phone and the location of a female.  There were three persons at the home at the time and one of those who was present told the media that the masked men began to beat all three of them. When the masked men left, the men had to be hospitalized but Salazar was so badly beaten that doctors say most of his bones were broken and his broken rib cage pierced internal organs causing internal bleeding. Today, the men were arraigned in the Orange Walk Magistrate’s Court. We spoke with Commander of the Police Special Branch, Chester Williams today.

Police Special Branch, Chester Williams

We were able to get sufficient evidence against the seven members of the Belize Defense Force and the police officer in respect of that matter and they were charged with the crime of murder in respect to the death of Ariel Muschamp Salazar and attempted murder in respect of the young man Oscar Paiz. It is expected that they’ll be arraigned today in Orange Walk Town magistrate court and the matter will then progress from there.

According to Williams, BSAG was operating outside its jurisdiction when it went to the home following the complaint about the phone made by the female.

Police Special Branch, Chester Williams

I can state categorically that they had no jurisdiction to have dealt with that matter. That is a matter that would have fallen clearly within the scope of Orange Walk Police formation and so the proper thing for them to have done, even if the complaint had gone to them and make the complaint, they could have referred the complaint to the Orange Walk Police Station who would have been the proper authority to follow up on that complaint.

No, there is no need to charge the female. If you as a female or any other civilian sees A person who believe is a law man and you go and make a complaint  to them and it is up to them to decide whether or not they will act. And if they know it is outside the scope of their duty to refer you to the proper authority. In this case they acted. She was not the one who sent them there, obviously, and they went and did what they did and so there is no culpability. We can say at this time, where the female is concerned. The only other thing she is being used as is a witness in respect to the fact that she knows who she went to and make the complaint, and she was also in the vehicle when they went to the house . There is no evidence to show that she got out of the vehicle and went inside the house. She stayed in the vehicle based on the investigation there is nothing to say that she committed any crime during the process .

Williams was asked if he is sure that the charges against the officers would hold up in court since most of the men who attacked Audinette were masked.

Police Special Branch, Chester Williams

 Well, I am satisfied that we have sufficient to lay the charge and put the matter before the court and then the judge will then set a trial time. Whether or not the issue of identification is satisfied and then move from there .

We have had several stories recently involving allegations against police officers involved in criminal activities. With yet another black eye to the Police Department, Williams was asked if he is concerned that the reputation of the Police department may be at an all time low.

Police Special Branch, Chester Williams

 I do understand the public complaints and it is a valid one and to us the police to ensure that we act whenever these things occur and we must do the right thing. It does not benefit either the police or the Belize Defense Force to cover the criminal actions of our members. When our members commit these sorts of crime the right to do to gain public trust is to do the right thing and the right thing is to investigate and follow the evidence where it takes and do what we are supposed to do before the court of law. I will assure the public that in every complaint that we partake in at Professional Standard Branch . We try to be upfront and open to the public, especially the family members of those persons who are hurt, with a view to give them that sense of assurance that we will do what needs to be done to be able to bring a satisfactory closure to them .

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