Thursday, January 10, 2013

Prime Minister Barrow Meets With Belize Gang Leaders Following Brutal Murders

Prime Minister of Belize, Dean Barrow

The Prime Minister of Belize, Hon. Dean Barrow, revealed in a press conference on Jan 9, 2013 that he has held talks with the leaders of The George Street Gang (GSG), a notorious criminal gang after four men were found dead in an apartment building on Tuesday morning. Local media said the men were tortured and their throats slashed.

When security forces arrived on the scene to pick up the bodies, people of the neighborhood began pelting them with stones and bottles. The forces had to fire shots into the air to keep the crowd at bay and senior police officers and journalists were forced to scamper for safety as multiple gunshots were fired near the apartment building.  The residents in the neighborhood alleged that the killings were a state-sponsored execution.

Later in the afternoon Mr. Barrow told reporters at a press conference that he led a delegation that included National Security Minister John Saldivar for talks with the leaders of the GSG and said that an arrangement had been reached for them to leave Belize City and not seek retaliation against people they believe committed the murders.

“I said they went under an arrangement with the government, they went completely of their own free will as a consequence of the discussion we had,” Barrow said, adding that the delegation made it clear during the talks “that it would be absolutely unthinkable for there to be any attempt at retaliation against innocent citizens.

“I will say that right from the start of those negotiations, they freely volunteered their commitment that absolutely nothing like that would happen. Now I say to residents of the City, I say to citizens of this nation that notwithstanding that particular development...the security forces are putting in place all that is necessary to make assurance doubly sure.

“But we do think that it was extremely helpful that we were able to secure that kind of commitment from the leaders. These people have premises outside the city. I don’t know that we can say it’s for rehabilitation purposes. It is perhaps better put as a departure that helps to assure us that they are going to be far removed from Belize City and to help to give us the additional comfort that they mean what they say when they undertake to abide by the laws of this country and to in particular not to engage in any random acts of violence at all against innocent citizens,” Prime Minister Barrow said.

Belize City, with a population of roughly 75,000, was virtually under siege for most of the day yesterday, Jan 8th; many businesses, banks and even school were sending messages over the airwaves that they will be closing down because of the fears of gang war and retaliations.

A press release issued by the Belize Ministry of National Security confirms reports of the multiple homicide that occurred in Belize City sometime Monday night.

“Police responded to a call around 8:00 this morning and visited an apartment complex at the corner of Dean and Plues Streets where they found the lifeless bodies of four men, namely, Albert Fuentes 19, Leonard Meyers 30, Anthony Perez, 28, and Keino Quallo, 40.

The bodies had multiple stab wounds, and there were no signs of forced entry. “Police have since removed the bodies from the scene and have launched an investigation led by three senior members of the Police Department.”

Prime Minister Barrow said that a special proclamation would be made “so that emergency measures can be put in place with respect to sealing off” Zone Four of the city.

“I say again that I am convinced that there will not be any organized effort from that zone on the part of the George Street people,” said Mr. Barrow.

Meanwhile, leader of the main opposition People’s United Party (PUP), Francis Fonseca, said he supports the efforts of the government to deal with the rising crime situation, but is also calling for a commission of inquiry into the quadruple murder of the four men. According to Fonseca, the inquiry would lay to rest once and for all suspicion that the Gang Suppression Unit was somehow involved.

Since the start of the year, at least ten people have been murdered in Belize City including 22-year-old Feeshia Felix, who was shot while she slept at her home over the weekend of  Jan 5, 2013.
 (L)Feeshia Felix

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