Court hears appeal of false imprisonment award case

In November of 2011, then-Supreme Court Justice Minnet Hafiz Bertram awarded over $93,000 in general damages and a further $23,000 in costs to three Belize City men who sued for false imprisonment and malicious prosecution after being wrongfully accused of involvement in a murder in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye. Micah Thompson, 33; Shelton “Pinky” Tillett, deceased, 32; and Charles Woodye, deceased, 23, were successful in their lawsuit against the Attorney General, Commissioner of Police and then-Assistant Superintendent and Officer Commanding San Pedro Formation, Dennis Arnold, but the Government has appealed the decision and on Friday the case was heard before President of the Court of Appeal Manuel Sosa and Justices Dennis Morrison and Samuel Awich. The Government parties, represented by Deputy Solicitor General Nigel Hawke and Crown Counsel Illiana Swift, continue to argue that damages should have been limited to the one hour each man spent in detention in 2009 before being remanded on murder charges in the death of John Paul Saldivar in January of 2009. The trio were found by Police near the Boca del Rio bridge but had nothing suspicious on them apart from US$1,800 currency on Tillett, nor were they seen behaving in any suspicious way. Attorney for the intended administrators of Charles Woodye’s estate along with the deceased Tillett and Thompson, Agnes Segura-Gillett, defended the judgment of Hafiz-Bertram who now sits on the Court of Appeal and recused herself from this case. The court questioned both sides on additional cases involving quantum of damages, particularly a 1990 Court of Appeal case. On Friday afternoon the panel reserved its judgment. Woodye was killed in August of 2011 and a subsequent clash between members of the Gang Suppression Unit and mourners returning from his funeral led to the gang truce signed in September of 2011. Tillett and a female friend, Kamill Andrews, were gunned down at a gas station in April of 2012.

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