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DPP appeals acquittal of lawmen Print E-mail
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Thursday, 26 June 2014 00:00

The 5 law men who were accused and acquitted of facilitating the biggest drug cargo on record to land in Belize, are back before the courts to try to resist an attempt by the Director of Public Prosecutions to have their case reopened. DPP Cheryl-Lynn Vidal wants them to face a re-trial.

In November of 2012, Police Corporal Renel Grant, Corporal Nelson Middleton, Sergeant Lawrence Humes, Customs Boatman Harold Usher, Sergeant Jacinto Roches, and civilian Victor Logan were all put on trial before Justice Denis Hanomansingh for the charge of abetment to commit a crime. They were accused of assisting in the landing of a twin Engine Beechcraft King Air 200 plane in the Bladden area of the Southern Highway on November 13, 2010. On that plane were just over 2,600 kilos of compressed cocaine, which was offloaded, but quick response from law enforcement led to the confiscation of the drugs and the securing of the aircraft.

The 5 lawmen were detained by police a few miles away from where the plane landed, and police found certain evidence in the van they were travelling in which made them suspect that these men assisted in that crime.

They stood trial before Justice Hanomansingh and on December 4, 2012, he directed the jury to acquit all the accused after agreeing with the submissions from their defence attorneys that they had no case to answer. The judge found that all the evidence that the prosecution put forward was not enough for a jury to convict the men, so they were found not guilty.

On Tuesday, June 24, a year and a half after the acquittal, DPP Vidal made an application before the Court of Appeal that the state should be allowed to appeal the acquittal of these men. She asked the panel of Judges to consider hearing the appeal on the grounds that the trial judge made an error in law when he concluded that the circumstantial evidence provided by the Crown was not enough to prove their case against the accused. She also submitted that the appeal should be heard on the additional grounds that the judge conducted the trial so as to deprive the crown of putting all their evidence before the jury.

The law men are being represented by attorneys, Simeon Sampson, Hubert Elrington, and Anthony Sylvestre, who made a preliminary objection to the appeal. Sylvestre’s ground was that the Director did not make the application within 21 days of thet the law men’s acquittal, so the application should not be entertained.

Justice of Appeal President Manuel Sosa announced that the court was overruling his objection, and they allowed DPP Vidal to be heard on her application. After a lengthy 3 hour session in the afternoon, the Court of Appeal adjourned the case until Friday, June 27, when they will deliver their decision on whether or not they will hear the appeal case against the men.