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Cops to be tried in June for manslaughter of Hilberto Sotz

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Posted: Monday, May 6, 2019. 4:45 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: Police Corporal Leonard Nunez and Police Constable Hallet King are to be tried for manslaughter in the death of 18-year-old Hilberto Sotz.

On Caye Caulker in 2015, Sotz was held at the Caye Caulker Police Station in connection with alleged handling of stolen goods, proceeds from a burglary.

 But Sotz had to be taken to the island clinic after becoming unresponsive and it was suspected the officers had beaten him in the police detention cell. His death sparked brief unrest on the island.

Nunez and King were initially charged with murder, but the Director of Public Prosecutions’ office later reduced the charges to manslaughter. Both are out on bail and interdicted at half-pay.

Appearing before Supreme Court Justice Colin Williams during a case management conference last week, attorney for the policemen Herbert Panton submitted to have the case dropped citing several issues.

For instance, the Crown’s planned main witness’ evidence, he claimed, conflicted with that of police diarist Hilberto Patt, and there are shifting conclusions as to cause of death from examiner Dr. Mario Estradabran.

But Justice Williams allowed the case to go ahead and set a trial date of June 10.  

Justice Williams did allow that it was still possible to do a coroner’s inquest in the case as well.

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