By Aaron Humes: Back in June 2016, police had initially charged two of their own officers posted on Caye Caulker with murder, for allegedly beating 18 year old Hilberto Sotz to death while in their custody.
Today, after 10 months on remand for murder, a directive from the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Cheryl-Lynn Vidal, instructed the court that the charges against Constable Hallet King and Detective Leonard Nunez would be lowered to manslaughter to lack of evidence to substantiate the greater charge.
Specifically, the DPP found that a major link in the chain of proving murder – the intentions of the officers – was not established beyond a reasonable doubt.
Disclosure in the case was delayed due to new evidence introduced which was not in the case file and which was being reviewed by the DPP. Today the court prosecutor asked for more time to put together the necessary documentation but the court ordered that it be done by today’s end.
Bail was granted to each man for 2 thousand dollars, subject to surrender of travel documents and report to their nearest police station – King in Punta Gorda, Nunez in Hattieville.
Sotz’s death caused great outcry in Caye Caulker and eventually led to the transfer out of the entire force on the island and other reforms.
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