The case of 22-year-old student Zurisaday Villasenor Mendez of Chetumal, Quintana Roo, Mexico was in a Belize City court today. Mendez is accused of a raft of charges in relation to a firearms and drugs bust by Police at the Las Vegas Hotel and Casino in October of 2012, but his case has taken another strange turn. On Tuesday the 30th of October, 2012, Police Officers conducted a search in Mendez’s hotel room and found him in possession of various prohibited items. The long list of weapons included two AK 47s and ammunition, an assortment of pistols and their related magazines filled with bullets, 28 grams of cocaine and marijuana, radio communication devices, antenna, cell phones, and a green face mask. He was subsequently charged with Kept Prohibited Firearm, Kept Prohibited Ammunition and Kept Firearm without a Gun License, Kept Ammunition without a Gun license, Drug Trafficking, and Possession of Controlled Drugs. Sitting Corozal Magistrate Clive Lino was originally hearing the case but for reasons unknown his San Ignacio colleague, Narda Morgan, was brought in to hear the case over the objections of counsel for the accused, Richard “Dickie” Bradley and Arthur Saldivar. After she refused to recuse herself, the case proper began with the prosecution represented by Crown Counsel Kaysha Grant bringing witnesses. That case was closed today. But now, the case has been transferred to Belize City after Magistrate Morgan was told by Police in Corozal that they had received information of threats of an unspecified nature made against her personally. She alledgedly informed Saldivar of this and her decision personally via telephone. Today, as many as 30 armed police officers and members of paramilitary units, most notably the Gang Suppression Unit (GSU), patrolled the area outside Magistrate’s Court on Treasury Lane and escorted Villasenor Mendez in and out of #2 Magistrate’s Court where the case was heard.In court, it was decided that the Supreme Court would hear the issue of alleged bias against Magistrate Morgan. Saldivar explains.
Arthur Saldivar – Counsel:
Mr. Mendez’s parents are professional people. His mother is a teacher; his father is a medical practitioner. Just today they came to Belize City where Misses Mendez was subjected to the most despicable act. As you can see, she is not wearing very loose clothing, but she was subjected to a strip-search. Their family attorney was also strip-searched upon coming to this court for whatever reason. These persons have been coming to court every day this case had been tried in Corozal and were never subjected to that kind of abuse. Certainly I consider it abusive that they had to have been subjected to that kind of treatment. I don’t know if this is universally applied to all Mexicans. I thought Mexico was a friend of Belize.
Saldivar further explained that the alleged threats against Magistrate Morgan was not a factor in why the case was sent up. The attorney also took the time to complain about alleged abuses of young Villasenor Mendez’s family.
Arthur Saldivar – Counsel:
For some time, the defense has been contending that there is a constitutional matter that needed to be determined at the Supreme Court in relation to this case that is being conducted. Finally today, with the assistance of the D.P.P. whose assistance was gravely necessary, the matter was actually sent up as a ‘case stated.’ We look forward to our day in the Supreme Court to be able to ventilate the issue and have the Supreme Court make its determination on the matter.
Earlier Saldivar told PLUS News and other reporters that the defense has asked for two witnesses on the prosecution’s list that it believes can help their case to come forward. He expressed confidence that the case would go in favor of his client, who he says had no prior criminal record and was not personally in possession of any of the items police found. He also stated that in light of the threat against Magistrate Morgan in Corozal the Government is severely indicted for not being able to properly provide security at the nation’s judicial outlets. (end)
For the first time, family members of Zurisaday Villasenor Mendez spoke to the press. His father, Luis Villasenor Marigal, insists his son is an exemplary young man and was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Luis Villasenor Madrigal – Father of Zurisaday Villasenor Mendez: My name is Luis Villasenor Madrigal, father of Zurisaday Villasenor Mendez. He is a student in Chetumal, Quintana Roo, an excellent son. He doesn’t have a criminal history in Chetumal or any part of Mexico. He was at the wrong place at the wrong time. He’s like any other young boy who wants to go out and have fun. He stayed out a little later that night and I guess these are the consequences but Zurisaday is an exemplary son. He has a five year old brother and he has never been involved in any problems, none at all, no matter how simple, he has never and especially not for things like what he is facing now which has terrified us and we just don’t understand. He was with his girlfriend to what we were told. He met some guys, but he has not told me their names and he had a little too much to drink with them. He has never reached home drunk. They invited him to stay a little longer to sleep and that is all he did to stay and rest. He didn’t know anything; he didn’t really know them and the room was not in his name. he doesn’t know anything.
Villasenor Mendez was taken back to jail late this afternoon.