Posted: Wednesday, September 18, 2019. 10:22 pm CST.
By Aaron Humes: A police officer alleges that he was assaulted in public by no less than a Minister of Government, whose son was obstructing fellow cyclists participating in an official race for the Belize Cycling Federation.
But the Corporal of Police, who so far prefers not to be named, says he is frustrated – though not surprised – that his fellow officers have appeared to downplay the incident by dragging their feet on taking his report and then stating he did not want court action when in fact he does.
He now questions whether, despite the many witnesses, the department is trying to actively sweep under the rug this incident as if it did not happen.
From his point of view, he was on duty during the Leslie’s Cycling Criterium, a September staple sanctioned by the Belize Cycling Federation and sponsored by its vice-president and former Belize City Councilor Dion Leslie.
Around 5:45 on Sunday evening, he witnessed Jafari Castro, son of Minister of Transport and National Emergency Management Edmond Castro, who appeared to have a bicycle flat, speaking with the race official.
Under the rules of the race a cyclist who has difficulty with his bicycle cannot reenter the race with five laps or less to go.
But Castro insisted on returning to the race, and went so far as to place his bicycle in the middle of the start-finish line, refusing to move and in the officer’s view, obstructing fellow racers.
That is when he intervened and told him he needed to move. Jafari stayed where he was and so the officer tugged the bike handle to get him moving. Jafari responded by pushing him in the chest and the Minister arrived to his son’s defense. The Corporal accuses the Minister of shoving him and alleges that the Minister stated loudly, “no, no, no, not ah [expletive] tall.”
The Corporal says he informed them of the offences committed – using indecent words by Jafari and assaulting a police officer and obstruction by father and son, which enraged the Minister into profanity and further threats. The crowd surrounded them and then Jafari was dragged off, but not before a final insult.
The officer went in to give his statement and a list of witnesses, but it was not attached to the police’s brief summary. The summary was also marked “no court action requested,” which is not so, and the file was marked “for future reference,” which signals to him that police will not proceed with the case as he requests. The officer has decided to seek legal advice.
We tried reaching Minister Castro this afternoon but the second time he told us he was in a meeting and hung up the phone. We also intend to reach out to the Federation to find out how it will handle discipline in this action.
But the officer says he has not given up and intends to continue pursuing the case.
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