A fire protest erupts in the Village of San Jose Succotz

vlcsnap-2014-08-20-07h27m33s35A fire protest against the Deputy Commissioner of Police Miguel Segura erupted in the village of San Jose Succotz in the Cayo District, where at some 300 angry people waved placards and burned tires on the streets. As early as 6:00 am residents of Succotz village began to congregate on side of the road passing through the village, before the first speed bump echoing a single voice that said “We want Justice”- Justice for the Victims of the Accident.

vlcsnap-2014-08-20-07h15m33s82Female Protester

“She is my friend, and she used to work very hard for her kids, and one drunkard come and kill her, and nothing will happen. 

Please be conscious because he’s from the law, and if he does these things, how will other people want do it?  But justice for other people, but for him not. “

vlcsnap-2014-08-20-07h21m01s213Elito Puc – Resident of Succotz

“Due to the accident we have one loss here in the village, we have our friend Yolanda Valencia.  She died on the spot.  Yani Cu is really bad at the hospital, awaiting for money, awaiting surgery to be performed on him. 

We are together as a village here in Succotz, Succotz being a very big village in the Cayo District, with I would believe approximately about between three thousand to five thousand people living in the village.  We are in support because we’re not happy with the decision, in which we foresee how the law is being under due process, in which how Mr Segura is being charged or being arrested.  We know, for instance, [if] any particular Belizean or civilians or citizens would be involved in an accident, they would be charged and punished with [the] severest of the law, and we foresee that Mr Segura, he is right there, and we are not happy with the decision, how the process is on.  We’re here as a village, asking and clamoring for justice, justice, justice.”

vlcsnap-2014-08-20-07h45m20s70Dindsdale Thompson – OC San Ignacio Police

“Rest assured, right now, the Police is not hiding or covering anything at any time in any way.  That’s what we’re doing at this moment, it is a process.  It must go through a process.  The laws of Belize say that a person innocent until the going to court and proving contrary to innocent, which is guilty. Our laws support that.  Our laws do not support that you are guilty until you are proven innocent. That’s another country’s law which in one neighbour’s law, but the laws of Belize say that you are innocent until you are proven guilty.

The process right now is that the case file is going up to the DPP’s office, whereby the DPP will then instruct what will be the next move from there. 

[Mr Sugura] is not working.  He is off on interdiction..” 

vlcsnap-2014-08-20-07h34m40s56At around 7:30, an hour and a half later, the first fire was lit. Senior Officers from the San Ignacio Police Station and Benque Viejo Del Carmen Police Station worked to negotiate an agreement with the protestors, to only light one side of the road so as to not block the traffic on the George Price Highway. Some minutes later the fire fighters arrived and attempted quench the fire, however it was not met well with the villagers, as they started throwing stones and other objects at the firefighters. They brought in a fire truck and managed to temporarily extinguish the fire. A couple of hours passed and the relentless villagers set the road on fire again as police officers looked on. For more than 5 hours the roads were blocked from any vehicular traffic and so commuters (and some tourists) had to cross the barricade on foot. The entire ordeal lasted until midday and Aaron Guzman responded to the demands of the angry crowd reiterating that charges are being prepared

vlcsnap-2014-08-20-08h05m44s230Aaron Guzman – Western Regional Commander

“Everybody has his or her constitutional rights, if it is there is a traffic accident, there is a process that we go through. There are some people suggesting that the alcohol test could have been done by the breathalyzer that is not yet legal in Belize, we do not go by that that is why blood was extracted and it was taken to the lab. There is a process that is done at the lab to test the content of the alcohol. It is I can say to you above the legally prescribed limit.

What will happen now is Mr. Arzu has prepared those charges for the blood alcohol content. Where it pertains to the traffic accident, we sought the advice of the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions. We have now been given the legal advice from the office of the DPP.  So charges are being prepared.  So as not to be accused of doing the wrong thing, we have prepared those charges and we are asking the office of the DPP to proofread the charge, to see that we have the correct sections etcetera. As soon as that is done the justice of the peace will sign it. Mr. Arzu the arresting officer will sign. Mr. Segura will be charged at the station.  That’s his constitutional rights.

Then he will be carried on to Magistrate’s Court.  Then it is from the Court’s perspective where bail is concerned, it is not the Police.”

After the debris was washed away, with the assistance of a bulldozer, the road was opened to vehicular traffic around 2:00 pm.

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