A Belize City construction worker and his girlfriend, a 16-year-old Honduran minor, were remanded to prison on charges of blackmail and abetment to blackmail, following their arraignment this morning before Senior Magistrate Sharon Frazer.
Edwin Omar Flores, 23, a construction worker residing at 111 Bain Street, and his girlfriend, who is allegedly in Belize illegally, did not have to enter a plea because their case will be heard on indictment in the Supreme Court.
Flores was charged with blackmail, while the minor was charged with abetment to blackmail.
The court prosecutor, Inspector Hector Rodriguez, objected to granting them bail.
Rodriguez told the court that the offense is a very serious one and carries a prison term of 7 years. He told the court that if they were not remanded, he is of the view that they would interfere with prosecution witnesses.
Flores owes the court $760 for two “possession of a controlled drug” charges that he was found guilty of in the Cayo jurisdiction, Rodriguez informed the court.
Rodriguez’s objections were upheld and Frazer remanded the two until their next court appearance date on September 16. Flores was remanded to the Belize Central Prison, while the minor was remanded to the Wagner Youth Facility, which is located on the prison compound.
The allegations against the two are that on Tuesday, July 22, they acted together to blackmail Wilbert Valencia, a resident of Orange Walk, into giving them $8,000.
According to police, the plan was for Valencia to pay them the $8,000 to spare a member of his family from being killed.
Valencia contacted police and a sting operation was set up, leading to the arrest of the two accused persons.
The blackmail money was supposed to be picked up at the Lords Ridge Cemetery on July 22, but what was not known to the would-be blackmailers was that police had been tipped off about their plan.
When the minor turned up at the cemetery to collect the blackmail money from Valencia, police followed her to an address in the Kings Park area, where she was arrested, along with Flores.
Prior to their arraignment, however, social worker Monique Hulse from the Community Rehabilitation Department appeared in court as a representative of the minor, who only speaks Spanish.
Hulse told the Senior Magistrate that the minor wanted to address the court regarding what transpired while she was detained by police.
The minor addressed the court through a Spanish translator.
Interestingly, the minor told the court, “I was detained by many police officers and forced to say many things. They told me to say what they wanted me to say, and that I am to say that it was he [Edwin Flores] who gave me certain directives. I was hit and I was forced to say certain things I never did.”
According to the minor, a police corporal even touched her waist in a sexual way when she was taken into a room and made to lie down. She said that she was hit on her knees and other parts of her body.
Flores also explained to the court that he was beaten to force him to make a confession statement.
Flores accused the police of putting a plastic bag over his head and claimed that he was duct-taped and shocked on his private parts.
The alleged brutality was recorded by the Senior Magistrate, who directed the police to take Flores to a doctor and to ensure that the medico-legal form was shown to her before he was taken to the Central Prison.