Retrial in BDF rape case due to prejudiced juror Print E-mail
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Friday, 19 February 2016 00:00

A female soldier of the Belize Defense Force reported to authorithies that after a function at the Price Barracks Compound on the night of March 25, 2011, Lieutenant Ruhesi Elijio went to her room and forcibly had sex with her against her will. There was no witness to the crime so it is a case of her words against his.

Elijio has been on interdiction since the allegations surfaced and the trial finally started almost five years later on Monday, February 15, 2016. However, the case came to a sudden hault on Wednesday, after the Jury Forelady informed the court that the jury was compromised. She explained to Justice Traodio Gonzalez that during the victim’s testimony on Monday a male juror leaned over and said, “I know she deh tell lies.” 

This kind of statement from a member of the jury selected to hear both sides of a case without prejudice could not be ignored by the court. Justice Gonzalez said the juror had formed his own opinion of the victim before she could conclude her testimony. Because of this, Justice Gonzalez discharged with nine member jury of six men and three women and ordered a retrial for the April session of the Supreme Court.

Justice Gonzalez said, “I don’t know how that juror could do something like that before the case even concluded.” Prosecutor in the case, Sheneiza Smith, had already called her two witnesses to testify when the case was thrown out. The court had also visited the scene where the incident allegedly occurred. Attorney for the defendant, Oscar Selgado, had already started his case by calling Elijio to the stand. Elijio testified that at no time did he rape the woman and that he never had sex with her. He denied even being in her room at anytime during the night she alleges he raped her.

Lieutenant Elijio will remain on interdiction until his case is concluded.