Posted: Sunday, July 21, 2019. 12:57 pm CST.
By Aaron Humes: A Special Constable and Police Constable, both with the San Pedro Town police station, have been freed on extortion charges brought on by an encounter two years ago.
Orlando Mendez and Nelson Ramos were accused of shaking down American tourist Timothy Braun for US$300 on June 15, 2017 to drop a marijuana charge.
Braun has stayed away from Belize since and did not testify, but former co-accused, Constable Malcolm Ramirez, agreed to testify for the prosecution in exchange for immunity.
The trio of law enforcement spotted a group of Americans while on patrol and said they smelled marijuana. A search located the “joint” of weed on Braun but as he was being taken in custody, the others asked what they could do to help their friend. Ramirez said it was they who offered the money to be shared between them – he got US$50 and the others US$125.
Justice Colin Williams, presiding, ruled that a conviction would be unsafe, as the prosecution only had Ramirez’s testimony, not even Braun. While Ramirez tried to lessen his role in the shakedown, he was nonetheless an accomplice, despite claiming he walked away afterward.
Defense attorney Darrell Bradley, submitting that there was no case to answer, urged consideration of Ramirez’s motives in turning on his colleagues, giving police a statement while being detained to be charged, and that whatever he said was discredited and not sufficient in legal terms to sustain a conviction by jury.
The court agreed and directed a verdict of acquittal to the nine-member jury.
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