Belmopan businessman Mike Menjivar cleared of charges stemming from GSU raid

On Monday morning at the Supreme Court of Belize, Justice Denis Hanomansingh finally gave his verdict on  one of the most high profile prosecutions of 2011. This is the case of well known businessman Miguel Angel Menjivar who owns and runs the famous La Cabaña restaurant and bar in the city of Belmopan.  The incident which catapulted Mr Menjivar into 2 long dreadful years occurred in May 20th of 2011. According to the evidence presented in court some 14 members of the GSU acting upon a search warrant, came down from Belize to conduct a search for illicit drugs at someone else’s property. Arthur Saldivar, one of the attorneys that represented Miguel Mejivar at the court, explains how the GSU then ended up in Mr Majivar’s property, and related the unlawful conduct on the part of the GSU.

Arthur Saldivar – Attorney:

vlcsnap-2013-09-24-11h34m45s84When the GSU left its headquarters in Belize City on the 19th of May, 201, the night of the 19th, they did not know they were going to reach the home  of Miguel Mejivar.  As far as they knew, they were only going to Roaring Creek to a home on the Roaring River Road. After going there and not finding the person they were looking for, an officer who was here in Belmopan, who knew this man and knew him for years told them ”Hey let’s go to Menjivar’s place.”  So they came here under the direction of a junior officer who was carrying out a personal beef.  So the entire GSU, including the head of the GSU, who I asking right now to be removed from his position, because he has shown that he does not have the judgment to hold on to that position.  I am saying that they were all led by a junior officer to commit the most heinous atrocity on a citizen of Belize that could be conducted by a member of the armed forces of this country.

Dickie Bradely, who also represented Menjivar told the media that the search warrant, from the very beginning, was unlawful.

Dickie Bradley, Attorney for Mike Menjivar

vlcsnap-2013-09-24-12h41m46s107This warrant was obtained illegally.  The search warrant is of no legal validity.  The Misuse of Drugs Act lays down what you do when you seek a search warrant to enter anybody’s private premises.  The judge was at pains in his decision this morning, quoting Lord Cook, one of the eminent British legal minds, which dates back to 1604.  The law has been the law from 1604, and some people in Belize do say the same thing.  The law is that your home is your castle.  He said this morning quoting that the rain could come in, the sunshine could come in, but the king and his forces can’t come in.  That is your castle,  There is a procedure to come into your house.   The other thing is how dare the forces of law and order come to people’s house at 4 o’clock in the morning.

Nevertheless, The GSU entered the premises and this is where the exchange of bullets between the GSU and Miguel Menjivar occurred. Mr Menjivar and his wife Iliana Chacon recounted the traumatizing event that they experienced within those walls.

Miguel Menjivar:

vlcsnap-2013-09-24-12h15m15s69Without investigating me, they almost killed my family in my house.  They could come to my place.  They knew exactly the time I closed my business.  They wait until I am asleep, and they start to break my door, and shoot all over my house, without telling me what’s going on.  They show me no Police vehicle lights.  They show me no kind of papers.  They didn’t give me a break for nothing. They just broke in my house.   My kids live in a different room, and they didn’t care how many members live in that house.  Only because God took care of us, we’re all alive.  I don’t know how we survive.  I don’t know how my kids didn’t went killed when they were running all over the house.

 

Iliana Chacon:

vlcsnap-2013-09-24-12h15m32s232We were sure that night that all of us were going to die.  We didn’t know what was happening. 

But as if that was not enough, everyone in Menjivar’s household was detained, including the babysitter. The verdict given by Justice Denis Hanomansingh found Menjivar innocent. So what is next? Well we asked Menjivar’s attorneys and this is what they said.

 

 

Arthur Saldivar:

We have not really considered anything beyond waiting for this day.  This day has come.  As much as we were optimistic of our chances to win the case, we could not be a hundred percent certain until it was delivered today in the ruling that we received. 

Dickie Bradley:

Mr. Menjivar is not even addressing his mind to any of that matter; he’s just hoping and praying that they don’t put him through anything else. He just finish with it. He, his wife and his children were traumatized. They just want to finish with still being in front of a court. So we asked him about it this morning and we were just keeping our eyes on is whether or not he was going to win. We said to him there is a strong chance that he would win; the evidence is week. But Mister Menjivar is not even thinking about suing nobody right now.

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