Today could only be described as a bittersweet moment for Melonie Coye after her bail application was granted late this evening via the Court of Appeal in Belize City in view of the passing of her ailing father, who was in prison with her.
Coye was allowed to go home with her family after being convicted of money laundering on August 8, 2012. She was jointly charged and sentenced to three years imprisonment for the offense, along with her father, 66-year-old Michael Coye, who unfortunately died of a massive heart attack last night after also receiving bail last Thursday, October 31.
Attorney Arthur Saldivar, who made the bail application on behalf of Melanie Coye, told the court that the Crown, who is the complainant, did not object to bail considering that the requirements have been met for a high prospect of appeal; therefore, the defense requested that bail be offered to the applicant.
The Crown, which was represented by Tricia Pitts-Thompson, likewise did not oppose the defendant’s application for bail.
After a few minutes of deliberation, the Court of Appeal upheld the application and ruled that bail be granted to Coye. Under the terms and conditions of the bail, however, Coye must remain in the country until the date when her appeal will be heard, next February.
She must also surrender all her travel documents to the police and report to the Racoon Street Police Station every Friday between the hours of 9:30 a.m. and 12:00 p.m. The bail was then set at $5,000 plus one surety of the same amount.
When the court session concluded, attorney for the Coyes, Arthur Saldivar, told Amandala that the tragic loss of Melanie Coye’s father, Michael Coye, triggered the hearing of the bail application today. Saldivar said, “Certainly, considering the fact that Mr. Coye has died, and also the fact that when the bail hearing for the now deceased Michael Coye took place, the Court of Appeal invited an application on behalf of Melonie Coye, [and] one was submitted. Certainly, the death of Mike Coye expedited the hearing of this application, but it wasn’t [an] emergency in the sense that the application had been in for a few days before this matter was brought up.
“Nobody could have contemplated the demise of Mr. Coye at that time. In the pleadings in the application, and his affidavit, he had urged the court that he knew that his time was getting short. There is no right to bail for a person convicted of a crime. The only time that bail is contemplated and granted is on the strength of the case, on appeal.
“So, the granting of bail is an indication of the strength of the case on appeal. As has been maintained by myself and my clients from the onset, they did not do anything wrong. They did not know of any criminal action taking place at their home, or at the business place, and in fact, none was proven in the court.”
The former businessman, Michael Coye, and his daughter Melonie, were the proprietors of Money Exchange International Limited. The Coyes were apprehended back in December 2009 when police claimed they found approximately 1.5 million dollars in cash in their house on Johnson Street. They, along with two of their former employees, Athlee Matute and Dietrick Kingston, were all convicted of money laundering charges in August of last year.
The employees, however, were not given custodial sentences after being found guilty of similar charges, while the Coyes were given jail terms of three years each, in addition to fines of $100,000. The Coyes had appealed their conviction, and their case will be heard in the February 2014 session of the Court of Appeal.