General — 19 January 2016 — by Rowland A. Parks
American businessman accused of abetment to murder released on $50,000 bail

BELIZE CITY, Fri. Jan. 15, 2016–Despite passionate objection from the Director of Public Prosecution that American businessman Bradley Paumen, whom police charged with four counts of abetment to murder, is a flight risk, today Supreme Court Justice, Madam Antoinette Moore, released him on a $50,000 bail and one surety in the same amount. Paumen has been charged with the offense of abetment to murder against four men, including American-Iranian Faroud Michael Modiri.

Paumen’s attorney, Ellis Arnold, SC, successfully argued that the legislators intended for persons charged with abetment to murder, be granted bail; otherwise they would have changed the law to reflect that bail should not be granted to persons charged with that offense.

Nonetheless, both sides agreed that the offense is a very serious one, and Paumen’s bail was granted with strict conditions: Paumen was ordered to surrender all of his travel documents, to the court.

Justice Moore also ordered that the court notifies the United States Embassy in Belize that Paumen’s passport is in the custody of the court and advises the Embassy not to issue another passport to him, should he attempt to apply.

Paumen was ordered to attend all adjournments of his case at the Belmopan Magistrate’s Court, beginning with his next scheduled court appearance on March 8. He is also to report to the Belmopan Police Station twice per week on every Wednesday and Friday between 6:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m., and he is not to interfere with any prosecution witness in the case.

For the purposes of the court, interference means directly texting, calling or sending a third party to interfere with the witnesses, and he is not to be in the presence of any of the witnesses.

He is not to leave the jurisdiction while his matter is before the court. Also, he is not to be arrested and charged for any other offense, or his bail will be revoked.

In her statements which outlined reasons for her objection to bail, DPP Cheryl-Lynn Vidal told the court that Paumen is expected to face additional charges in connection to the same incident.

Justice Moore pointed out that the charges would have to be new and not be connected to the abetment to murder charges for his bail to be revoked. Arnold, in his submission, argued that what the court should be concerned about, as it relates to bail, is whether or not the defendant will appear in court on dates set by the court.

He also submitted that bail is a right and that a person is presumed innocent until proven otherwise, and that his client is a Belizean with financial ties to Belize as a businessman.

Justice Moore had a number of questions for Paumen relating to his business investment in Belize. He answered the questions directly, telling the court that he is the owner of Dark Night Cave Tubing, which is located in Franks Eddy Village, Cayo District, where he resides.

Paumen said he has invested about $5 million in Belize, and all of his businesses are in the hospitality industry, including another resort in Hopkins Village, Stann Creek District.

Paumen also told the court that he has been in a relationship with a Belizean woman for three years.

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