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Trial of Corporal Elmer Nah and others begins for keeping ammunition found on the day of drug plane landing

Posted: Thursday, February 2, 2023. 8:42 am CST.

By Aaron Humes: Senior Magistrate Baja Shoman on Wednesday began hearing the case of embattled Police Corporal Elmer Nah; Constable Manuel Caliz, his brother-in-law; and Epiphania Caliz, his common-law wife, for two counts of keeping ammunition without being granted a gun license.

The trio was found with 135 live rounds of .223 Remington brand ammunition and four 5.56×45-millimeter calibre live rounds of ammunition on November 6, 2021, not far from where an alleged drug plane landed on the Southern Highway.

Head of Prosecution Branch Alifa Elrington is prosecuting while attorneys Richard “Dickie” Bradley and Leeroy Banner represent Epiphania and Manuel Caliz; Elmer Nah is without representation.

The trio initially faced five counts, but before the trial could begin, the court books were unanimously amended to withdraw three of the five counts, leaving two charges to which each of the accused pleaded not guilty.

The first witness was Corporal Mariano Chun, the lead officer who intercepted the vehicle in which the trio was reportedly found, a black Nissan Rogue.

Corporal Chun told the court that he and others responded that night to reports of two “suspicious-looking vehicles coming from the direction of Punta Gorda Town toward Independence Village – a Nissan Rogue and a Nissan Bursa. Both were reported to be heavily tinted and without license plates.

Police set up an intercept after five in the evening near the entrance of Bella Vista Village and observed both vehicles fitting their description pass over the speed bump and continue on up the highway at speed. Police set chase and managed to intercept both vehicles.

Corporal Chun recognized Corporal Nah as the driver of the Rogue and instructed him to exit the vehicle, which he did, and then informed him they would search the vehicle for illegal drugs and weapons.

When Corporal Chun asked Corporal Nah to open the trunk of the Rogue, he saw a camouflage bulletproof vest and five black ammunition magazines. When asked who they were for, Corporal Nah named one Richard Arnold, a fellow officer, and said he was taking them to Arnold in Belmopan. Nah also displayed his service weapon, a nine-millimetre Glock pistol with two magazines, but claimed he was not on official duty but on vacation. Police also recovered an extended nine-millimetre magazine with ammunition near Epiphania Caliz, who was holding a minor female child, as well as Manuel Caliz in the back of the vehicle.

Yesterday afternoon, three other witnesses took the stand who were involved in the initial bust and subsequent investigation.

Attorney Bradley commented afterwards: “It took a long time to get disclosure, it took a long time for all the preliminaries, but the senior magistrate insisted that this case has to take place because it is going too long… this matter has even gone to an internal police tribunal and the evidence, written evidence has established that the police officer who is in fact responsible for the ammunition, who belonged to the team of these officers, has said to the tribunal that yes, “they are mine.” So how can you charge somebody else for something which was issued to another police officer when they are in fact, as you heard in the trial, that they were driving a vehicle that was used in the Commander of Operations Special Team? So, you are given a vehicle from the police department and ammunition are in there for one of your fellow teammates. How can you end up facing criminal charges?”

Three further witnesses will testify for the prosecution when the trial resumes Thursday morning at 9:00.

 

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