Posted: Thursday, November 11, 2021. 11:30 am CST.
By Aaron Humes: In a public statement provided this morning to Breaking Belize News, Director of Public Prosecutions Cheryl-Lynn Vidal has said that “the Office of the DPP will not participate in the investigation or prosecution of this matter at any stage. I am confident that the Commissioner of Police will spare no effort to bring all offenders to justice,” in reference to the ongoing saga involving the so-called “Bladen 11” who were arrested in connection with a recent drug-plane landing.
Director Vidal assured that she has effectively distanced herself from several of the key personalities alleged to be involved, or linked however peripherally, to last Thursday’s landing of a narco-jet on the Southern Highway near Bladen village, Toledo District, from which weapons and more than 700 kilos of suspected cocaine were recovered, and for which eleven persons have been arrested and charged, as well as two others peripherally.
One of those is Corporal of Police Delwin Casimiro, of whose detention she was informed by Commissioner of Police Chester Williams on Friday. The Director explains that she has known the Corporal going back to 2012 as a member of the Gang Suppression Unit (GSU), before he was formally assigned to her security detail in 2019, while continuing to engage in operations with the Commander Operations Strike Team after he was so assigned, until November 2020 when she asked that he stop due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the Director, “Nothing in my interaction with and observations of [Corporal Casimiro] over the years could have alerted me or served as a warning sign that he could have been engaged in any criminal activity.”
The remaining officers charged are known to the Director as members of the Police Operations Unit and co-workers with Corporal Casimiro. As for her spouse, Deputy Commissioner of Police Marco Vidal, formerly Commander of Operations, she says she has split with him for more than a year now. The membership of the unit has effectively been disbanded, those not charged in the plane bust have been transferred elsewhere in the Department.
Beyond the personal relationship, the Director has had to endure social media commentary linking her to Corporal Casimiro and the plane bust, but as she makes clear: “I had no knowledge or suspicion of, and no involvement in, the events of last Friday.”
This makes that commentary, in her words, “…very hurtful. They are scurrilous and utterly untrue. They are also potentially damaging to public confidence in the criminal justice system if left unanswered.” She adds that she has spent nearly her entire 23-year career in criminal justice and as a prosecutor, and been harshly criticized for decisions she has taken as Director that she insists are grounded in the law and done ethically, with the proper application of the legal principle, and anchored with diligence, fairness, and professionalism.
As for her former colleagues, she says, “I hope that the gravity and impact of the actions of these officers is not lost on them – the terrible betrayal of the trust that was reposed in them; the shadows unfairly cast on the careers of others who believed in them and looked after their welfare; doubt in the criminal justice system; and the embarrassment that they have caused to their colleagues, the Department and to the country as a whole.”
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