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Home Features 2017 ends with a bang … of bullets!

2017 ends with a bang … of bullets!

“Men talk of killing time, while time quietly kills them.” ~ Dion Boucicault

Man created the concept of time, clocks, calendars and measures time in seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years, decades, centuries …. But time is really an abstract reality.  However, we have been programmed to mark our lives by time and thus our honoured tradition of bidding farewell to the old year and celebrating the start of a new year.

2018 is now just a few days old, but that is already time gone and for most of us it will appear as if time has swiftly gone by. To live to see the end of 2017 and the dawn of 2018 is a great feat, and one many of us celebrated.

Deadly ending of 2017

In reality, killing time is only the name for another of the multifarious ways by which time kills us. ~ Osbert Sitwell

However, as a community of people, Belizeans have nothing much to celebrate when it ended with the slaying of a brother and started with the stabbing death of another. Thus, 2017 has become the deadliest and bloodiest in terms of murder, with 148, including the four awaiting DNA results. It does not matter who believes otherwise, it is clear that Faye Lin was murdered and only the police don’t want to call a spade, a spade. There is no way her death was a suicide.  They may be reluctant to point the finger at who did it, but by all means that child was murdered!

The remains found in the vehicle of teacher Pamela Lino, from all reasonable accounts it is that of the missing teacher. But I just don’t know why it is taking so long just to get that result to confirm it is her. What is sure, is that whoever was in that vehicle was murdered, as that vehicle did not just go up in flames like that. This is the same situation with the two unidentified remains found in the burnt pick-up on the Placencia Road. It is murder, and whoever was the driver can give the answers, but he fled the scene. Had it been an accident that caused the pick-up to just go up in flames then the missing driver, whose driver’s seat was empty, would have had no reason to escape and not tell what happened.

But the last two murders for 2017 have their own reasons to be remembered. The execution of Fareed Ahmad, on the night of Thursday, 28th December, 2017, by a member of the Police’s Special Assignment Team (SAT), with her police-issued gun in his own vehicle, is one for the annals of history as it marks and sets the foundation of the now known police extra-judicial killings in this country. This is poignant as it occurred just hours after the victim lodged a complaint against SAT and now the same police accused of executing him, must conduct the investigation into his death. The subsequent arrest and arraignment of WPC Michelle Brown is interesting and paradoxical, in that, despite her being arrested and the police saying it’s her police-issued weapon that was used, the police refuse to confirm she did not act alone and that her killing of Fareed Ahmad was not her sole act, but that of her unit SAT.

ACP Chester Williams: “We know that Fareed had made a report to police hours before he died, and that was also a subject of our investigation, to be able to see if there is any nexus between that report and his death. And so far, our investigation has not revealed that there is any nexus between the two.”

Then, it really begs the question – what is her motive for killing the young Fareed Ahmad? What did she stand to gain? Why was she in his vehicle? Who set up whom?

However, the final murder of 2017 is notorious for the very fact that it is the last murder for 2017and it occurred two hours before the stroke of midnight. Twenty-two- (22) year-old Frederick Smith was murdered on Iguana Street Extension, where he was found face down in a drain with an apparent gunshot injury to his upper left back. That was one cold-blooded killing and his killer did not even face him, but cowardly shot him in the back and robbed him of the time to pass for him to live to see 2018.

Violence marked the start of 2018

It became even more depressing to know that already 2018 started with yet another murder and then followed by another and followed by several shooting incidents since. It’s like the sounds of bullets just cannot stop ringing out in the old capital city, which has become the murder capital. Only three hours into the New Year, the murderers could not resist the urge to have their handiwork recorded in the murder statistics of 2018.

ASP Alejandro Cowo, OC, CIB Belize City: “Initial investigation reveals that earlier that morning, Leon Garcia was in the company of other friends walking from Barrack Road towards Victoria Street when they were attacked by a group of male persons. A [fight] ensued between them where he received the alleged stab wounds to his body.”

Then, without missing a beat on the 2nd January, 2018, tragedy struck again in the form of two masked men carrying out an ambush on the unsuspecting couple, Jermaine and Stephanie Vellos, at the steps of their home in Belama Phase II, Belize City. It is reported as a case of mistaken identity, but that could not bring back the 37-year-old father and husband and resident of New York City, who was home visiting his family for the holidays.

Police and the prosecution have not been able to get convictions for crimes of 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013 and even 2012, and already they are struggling to investigate and compile winning case files of these freshly occurred murders. This is no easy task, yet we do not hear of millions of dollars being invested into better forensic labs and staff and techniques so that our conviction rate of criminals can serve as a deterrent. This is especially critical at a time when eyewitnesses are not willing to come forward, either out of fear for their lives or due to their animosity with police, who have become better armed and more militarized.

To be continued in the Tuesday issue of this Newspaper.

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