Court of Appeal restores murder indictment

The Belize Court of Appeal has overruled a decision by Supreme Court Justice Denis Hanomansingh to quash an indictment for murder against Jorge Vidal in the Central District of the Court and ordered that he stand trial. On Wednesday it allowed the appeal by the Director of Public Prosecutions, represented by Crown Counsel Linsbert Willis, set aside Judge Hanomansingh’s order and ordered that the indictment stands and that Vidal face trial for the murder of Hortencio Contreras, who was killed in Benque Viejo Town on December 31, 2005. Vidal was not present at the appeal hearing. The case came up in Belmopan Supreme Court in August of 2013 but the judge refused to allow the case to proceed because in his view the preliminary inquiry committing Vidal to trial was improperly conducted. Late Magistrate Richard Swift had handled the proceedings, but he disappeared along with six others at sea and was later found dead in November of 2007 and his successor, former Magistrate Earl Jones, signed the committal warrant. The judge had argued that one man could not sign for a dead counterpart, but the senior judges indicated that Justice Hanomansingh allowed himself to be overwhelmed by the assumption that there has to be a signed preliminary inquiry document by the same magistrate. The court will give the reasons for its decision in writing on a date to be announced by the Registrar.

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