Last night we told you about the charge for arson which was withdrawn against Efrain Alpuche, security guard for PUP Orange Walk North standard bearer Ramon Cervantes Jr., and Saulito Vasquez. The duo was charged with arson of sugar cane fields belonging to Belize Sugar Industries Limited (BSI) on the San Lorenzo Road in May 2015 but then the DPP advised the police to withdraw the charge due to lack of evidence. The reasons behind the DPP’s decision was not known when the news broke out that the charge had been dropped against both men. But tonight we can give you that information thanks to a leaked Memo obtained by the media from the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, and sent to the Officer Commanding the Orange Walk formation, Assistant Superintendent Selvin Tillett.
In the memo, the Director of Public Prosecutions, Cheryl-Lynn Vidal, indicates and we quote, “I have read this file and interviewed witnesses and am of the opinion that there is no evidence to proceed to trial”, end quote. The memo states that the reasons behind the charge being withdrawn is that the only exhibit and link to the vehicle in which the two accused person were found had been contaminated and cannot be tendered into evidence. The evidence the DPP is referring to is a side mirror cover.
Another reason behind the DPP’s decision was the fact that no finger prints were lifted from the side mirror cover because other persons had already came in contact with the evidence and contaminated any possible prints from the accused persons.
The DPP further states in the Memo that it also came to her attention that the evidence was removed from the scene, handed over to police and then fitted on a vehicle which was in police custody. No problem there says the DPP, but she did have a problem when it comes to the evidence being handed back to the individual who took it to the station for him to take it back to the scene.
Backing the DPP’s decision was also the fact that none of the witnesses were able to positively identify the vehicle in which the two accused were found in as the vehicle on the scene and that no witnesses have identified the two accused as being the persons who started to burn the fields.
And while both Alpuche and Vasquez are free of any charges, the sugar producer lost 700 tonnes of un-harvested sugar cane valued at $50,000 when the fields were set ablaze the an unknown person or persons. In an interview with Alpuche over the Sarstoon visit, he commented to our reporter that the incident had caused his family some distress and is considering whether to file a suit against anyone.
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