GOB sued over malicious prosecution

A civil suit against the government for malicious prosecution is close to wrapping up in the courtroom of Supreme Court justice Sonya Young. The matter is being brought by Sharim Baeza who is being represented by attorney Philip Palacio. Sharim Baeza, then 16-years old, was accused of abetment and conspiracy to commit murder in the July 2003 killing of his own father, 34-year-old Wilfredo Baeza. The incident occurred in Corozal and the report was that Shamir along with his stepmother had conspired to kill his father who was found with bullet wounds to the head and back inside their home. Police initially said the murder was planned by the stepmother and Sharim who hired her two brothers to kill his father. The brothers were separately convicted for murder and conspiracy to commit murder. Police reported that Shamir confessed but in court, he testified that he only did so because the cops beat him. The matter first went to trial before Justice Troadio Gonzalez and Baeza was convicted on October 5th, 2006 after which he was sentenced to life in prison. However, there was an appeal and the conviction was overturned by Justice Herbert Lord in March of 2008 on the basis of an unfair trial. It was successfully argued that the defense attorney abruptly walked away from the case which was not aborted. Baeza therefore had to defend himself. A subsequent retrial came up in May of 2014 and on June 24th that same year, he was found not guilty. The ongoing case is against first defendant: retired superintendent of Police Eugene Fuentes, the commissioner of police and the attorney general. Fuentes was the lead investigating officer into the death of Wilfred Baeza and the officer who laid the charges against Sharim Baeza. Sharim Baeza through his attorney is seeking aggravated damages in connection with the alleged police brutality; general damages for the malicious prosecution and exemplary damages because the Justice of the Peace who witnessed the caution statement did not take the THEN minor aside to enquire whether he was giving that statement freely and also because his guardian was not called to witness him giving the statement. The matter went to trial today and three witnesses were called but the main witness and first defendant, retired superintendent Eugene Fuentes did not show up for court as scheduled for 9a.m. He was therefore summoned and was being brought down to court from Corozal but after the court resumed on adjournment this afternoon, the crown informed that Fuentes had escaped police custody. Therefore, Justice Young granted them a warrant for him to be brought to court. The defendants are being represented by crown counsels Treena Young and Leonia Duncan. The case was adjourned until Friday March 4th.

About the Author