Alleged Slovakian Mafia Boss finds Refuge in Belize Print E-mail
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Written by Shane D. Williams   
Thursday, 23 August 2012 00:00

Karol MelloOn July 12th of this year, 42-year-old Karol Mello was transported by police from San Pedro Town to Belize City. Mello is a citizen of the Slovak Republics who is wanted by Interpol for a gang related murder of a woman and young boy in 2004. He was arrested in October of 2010 but due to procedural errors in the case, he was released from custody in May of 2011. He eventually fled from Europe and arrived in Belize late 2011. He has been residing at the Cloister's Resort in San Pedro and had been awarded permanent resident status in Belize. However, when an extradition request for Mello was sent to the Belizean government, law enforcement authorities proceeded to apprehend him and process the extradition request.

An expulsion order dated July 16th was served on Mello but was not acted upon immediately. On July 17th Mello’s legal team applied for an injunction against the Minister of Immigration, which restrained the Minister and the Government from expelling him before the extradition request is heard before the court. That injunction was granted and Mello had a habeas corpus hearing on August 2nd. It is simply a hearing in which the grounds for detention of an individual is presented by the prosecution and questioned by the defense. In court on August 2nd, the prosecution claimed that Mello was being detained because he was a threat to the public safety of Belize. Mello’s attorneys used a public statement made by the Minister of Immigration, Senator Godwin Hulse, to dismiss the claim that Mello was a threat to public safety. In the statement, Senator Hulse said that Mello should “face the music” in his own country and “After that he is happy to come back to Belize to resume his residency." Mello’s attorney used the statement to show that he is not really deemed a public threat but is actually the subject of an extradition process. Proving that Mello was being detained solely to eventually satisfy an extradition request was crucial to the defense’s case because it could free their client since, admitted by Senator Hulse, “We don't have any extradition orders with [Slovakia]”. The habeas corpus hearing was before Justice Oswell Legall. He reserved judgment for August 10th.

On August 10th, Justice Legall ordered the release of Karol Mello since Government had no proper grounds to hold or expel him. Simply put, if government wants to expel Mello from Belize based on a request by Slovakia, then government must establish an extradition treaty with that country and, in order to expel him based on The Alien Act, Government must prove that he is a threat to society. After the decision was handed down by Justice Legall, Mello was released from the Belize Central Prison only to be taken to the Queen Street Police Station for charges of perjury and uttering on a passport he was not entitled to. According to the Immigration Department, when Karol Mello went to complete the application form for permanent residence on September 17th, 2011, he committed perjury by providing information about his Slovak passport that had been withdrawn by the Slovak Government on July 18th, 2009. Mello entered on the form that his Slovakian passport was valid up until November 26th, 2011. Mello was taken to the Magistrates Court before Senior Magistrate Dorothy Frazer. After hearing arguments from both sides Magistrate Frazer adjourned the case for August 20th. Bail was denied.

On August 17th, Mello’s legal team applied for bail at the Supreme Court before Justice Dennis Hanomansingh. Mello’s team argued that the charges against their client were weak, since the uttering on a passport charge was based on an act done 11 months prior to the charge and the statute of limitation for that crime is 6 months. The team also argued that the perjury case was weak since the information was not given while under oath and the prosecution could not prove that he knowingly provided false information. Justice Hanomansingh agreed that the case against Mello was weak and granted bail in the sum of $10,000. Conditions for bail was that he surrendered all travel documents and report to the San Pedro Police Station every Friday until the completion of his trial. The trial was completed on Monday, August 20th, when the prosecution withdrew its charges against Mello.