Belize will not support second probe into death of Guatemalan teen

Saturday, September 10, 2016

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BELMOPAN, Belize (CMC) – Belize has ruled out supporting another investigation into the shooting death of a Guatemalan teenager earlier this year after Guatemala City rejected the findings of an investigation carried out by the Organisation of American States (OAS).

Guatemala had originally asked the OAS to carry out the probe into the incident that had threatened to escalate its border dispute with Belize.


"I can tell you with full certainty that will not happen. This is our country. An incident occurred within our borders. It is the responsibility of our authorities to do the investigation. We had acceded to the suggestion that we get experts because we wanted to make it clear that we had nothing to hide," said Foreign Minister Wilfred Elrington.


But earlier this week, Guatemala’s Foreign Minister Carlos Raul Morales said his country does not accept the OAS report and will embark on a campaign to ensure the matter is investigated by the Inter-American Human Rights (IACHR) Court.


The 22-page report by the OAS followed a decision by both countries that have had a long-standing border dispute for the hemispheric body to probe the April 20th killing of 14-year-old Julio Rene Alvarado Ruano.


His father and brother were also injured during the incident that occurred within the Adjacency Zone administered by Belize.


Following the incident, Guatemala, which has laid claim to parts of Belize, sent its troops along the Sarstoon River escalating the tensions between the two countries.


Elrington said that Belize had left the investigation to the OAS to decide on who those experts would have been, and the hemispheric body "selected very highly trained persons from two of the most powerful and eminent countries in the hemisphere, if not the world".


"You can’t get more powerful than the United States. You can’t get more learned and informed than the United States, and Mexico is not far behind. Those persons were selected by the secretary general, the eminent people, they have done an excellent job.


"But their role was really just to help us, not to dictate to us but to do an independent investigation, find out what the situation was and that information is passed on to our police who will determine what to do with it; I imagine in consultation with the DPP (Director of Public Prosecution).


"We are not going to do anything else, and nobody can initiate any kind of investigation from abroad without our consent. Well, we are very satisfied with the results and we have in fact passed it on to our police department. We have also indicated to the Secretary General that we are very content with the results. We have thanked him, and we will regard this as the end of the matter as far as the investigation is concerned," Elrington added.


Last month, Prime Minister Dean Barrow said the OAS report was a clear vindication of the country and that it exposed "the falsity of the position taken by their President, taken by their foreign minister and taken by their officials.


"So I am hoping that they will be mature enough to accept that they were wrong; that the allegations that they made against the BDF (Belize Defence Force) were utterly unjustified, and that they owe Belize an apology," Barrow added.


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