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Five (5) deaths in 2 months with alleged police involvement

Posted: Tuesday, February 27, 2018. 5:59 p.m. CST.

By BBN Staff: In the last two (2) months, the lives of five (5) Belizean men have been lost in questionable circumstances involving members of the Belize Police Department. Is this a sign that some individuals or units of the Belize Police Department are slowly acting with a death squad mentality? Breaking Belize News hope that this is not so, and that the decision makers in Belize move quickly to quell thoughts of such a developing trend.

Shortly after midnight on December 27, popular barber, Fareed Ahmad, was shot dead inside his vehicle less than a quarter mile away from his home in Hattieville. Ahmad was under constant police surveillance and had earlier that same day launched a harassment complaint against members of the said Special Assignment Team (SAT). A woman police officer assigned to SAT was found in his vehicle. She was subsequently arrested and charged with his murder. The Amandala newspaper describes the Special Assignment Team as “an aggressive, shadowy section of the Belize Police Department”.

Almost two (2) weeks later on the night of January 13, 24 year old Mario Vernon, was shot in the head by Police Constable Tevin Aranda in Punta Gorda. Aranda claims that Vernon made an attempt to assault him with a firearm while eyewitnesses say Aranda opened fire on an unarmed youth. Aranda was subsequently charged with manslaughter.

Days after that incident, San Pedro resident, Alfredo Cowo, 26, was shot dead while socializing with his girlfriend in a golf cart in front of the Jaguar’s night club. It is not known if there was any police involvement in his death but just days before his demise he spoke to the media and claimed that a police officer had made threats on his life. Cowo was one of the witnesses against two (2) officers accused of indiscriminately opening fire into a crowd at Central Park in San Pedro. The same week of Cowo’s death the two (2) officers were acquitted of the charges related to the Central Park incident.

Last Thursday 46 year old Orange Walk resident, Ariel Salazar, was beaten to death, allegedly over a stolen cell phone. Yesterday, one (1) police officer and seven (7) members of the Belize Defense Force, all members of the Belize Special Assignment Group (BSAG), were charged with his murder.

Less than 24 hours later a Jamaican national, Humphrey Mitchell, 44, who resides in Stann Creek was pronounced dead after being escorted in the pan of a police mobile. According to police, he jumped out of the moving vehicle to his death at mile 3 on the Stann Creek Valley Road. Police claim that he was not handcuffed and an officer was seated in the back of the truck who witnessed the suicide. The camera installed on the mobile was not connected even though it was in working condition.

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