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No safe haven in Belize for escapee Joseph Budna, police say

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Posted: Wednesday, May 29, 2019. 3:59 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: Joseph Budna, 38, is once again on the run from Guatemalan authorities after escaping a regional hospital in San Benito, Peten, over the holiday weekend.

But the Belize Police Department says he will not find safe haven in his native country should he come here.

Budna was convicted of kidnapping and escape and handed 30 years in jail, but in 2014 he dodged prison officers who were taking him for medical treatment in a hospital in Zacapa. He got an additional five years after being captured in Jocotan, Chiquimula.

 Chester Williams, Commissioner of Police, says the department issued an all points bulletin after being informed of the escape by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

While there is no confirmed information that Budna is indeed coming home, Williams says the Department must anticipate it and try to head him off. The police, he said, would ensure he is apprehended if he does come into Belize, but as there is no formal extradition treaty with Guatemala, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs would have to intervene if he is caught here. The Commissioner did note that despite border tensions, law enforcement in Guatemala have been helpful in ensuring that Guatemalans wanted for crimes in Belize are brought to face justice, and Belize is prepared to reciprocate. Unconfirmed reports are that a body was found along Routa 155 in Michoacán, Mexico that some reports indicate may be Budna, but that would be some ways off from where he escaped.

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