General — 17 January 2018 — by Rowland A. Parks
Arrest of a Guatemalan woman with a false document turns political

BELIZE CITY, Mon. Jan. 15, 2018– On Friday, Wendy Castro, 26, a Guatemalan woman, who is eight months pregnant, was held in police custody over the weekend after she attempted to apply for a Belize social security card but was arrested by San Ignacio police, because she presented a false birth certificate.

The matter of charging Castro is a simple police procedure, but when attorney Michel Chebat asked the police if she could be released on station bail due to her advanced pregnancy, the story took on a political twist and the United Democratic Party chairman Alberto August accused Chebat of pressuring the police to release Castro.

In an interview with Amandala today, Monday, Chebat told us that he was called in around 8:00 p.m. on Friday to the San Ignacio Police Station concerning a woman who is pregnant and was in police custody.

“I was asked to come in my capacity as an attorney to represent her, which I did. When I reached the police station, I asked to see the officer in charge, Richard Rosado, and I spoke to him about the case. He told me that the lady had gone to Social Security to renew her ID, and that Social Security had determined that the document she presented was false, but Social Security was not interested in pursuing her. Vital Statistics Unit wanted her to be charged. I asked them if she was going to be charged, if she could get police bail,” Chebat explained.

“Rosado said to me that he was waiting for Vital Statistics to send down the file. He anticipated that he would have it before 6’o clock in the evening. I then told him that I would come back. He gave me his number and told me that I could call him. That is what transpired. So I left the police station and went back on the campaign trail, where I was”, Chebat said.

“By the time I got back on the campaign trail, I was called by a reporter from Channel 7 News, asking me what had happened, because Alberto August had called them and told them how I was pressuring the officer in charge in San Ignacio to release the lady, and they did not want to release her because they consider her to be a flight risk,” Chebat explained.

Chebat added, “The lady is eight months pregnant. She lives with a gentleman Velasquez in Santa Elena, she has a Belizean child and she is 8 months pregnant with the other child. When I had gone to speak to Mr. Rosado, they had her in the cell at the back. I said to him, ‘Mr. Rosado please consider that this lady is pregnant and the conditions in the back are not the best’, if he can please put her in the holding room. And to his credit, he did.”

Chebat said that he went back to the police station and they had still not charged the woman. “The lady slept there on Saturday night. I was called back on Saturday night and the police said they were going to charge her and that they were going to give her bail, but they wanted her attorney there,” said Chebat.

“So I went back after 8:00 Saturday night. I spoke to the officer who was in charge at the station.  Mr. Rosado was not there, but the officer said they had charged her, but the officer in charge had instructed that she should not be given police bail.

“So I asked to see her and explained to her that they had determined that they would not give her bail; she had to wait until Monday morning to be brought before the magistrate, and that was the extent of my involvement. I went there as an attorney. This is a political game that Alberto August is playing,” Chebat went on to say.

Tonight, Amandala spoke with August and he told us that he was not making political mischief. August said that he had gone to the police station for something totally unrelated and stumbled upon Castro in police custody.

August also insisted that Castro had the evidence of the false birth paper on her. “The police wanted to get to the bottom of it,” August said.

Castro was not charged in court because she has since been hospitalized and the baby has shifted its position. Her husband said it is on account of the stress she suffered in police detention. Her husband also maintains that she is Belizean and has been paying Social Security contributions for a number of years.

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Deshawn Swasey

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