Commissioner of Police, Allen Whylie, has made a big time move by ordering the immediate interdiction of a police constable who refused to testify against Lake Independence area representative, Hon. Mark King in the Corozal Magistrate’s Court. This is a very gutsy move on the ComPol’s part, and it is safe to say it caught most Belizeans by surprise.
Hon. Mark King, 38, charged in the Corozal Magistrate’s Court with aggravated assault, threatening words and disorderly conduct, had been freed of all charges after the arresting officer, Constable Nelson Ramos, stunned the court by announcing that he was withdrawing all charges against King on Tuesday, June 18.
Since there was then no complainant or witness left in the case, the presiding magistrate, Clive Lino, said that there was not sufficient evidence to continue the case, and with that, King walked out of court a free man.
The incident occurred at about 2:00 a.m. on Tuesday, February 5, while King and his group were partying at Princess Casino, just outside the Corozal Free Zone, next to the Belize Mexico Bridge.
Police reported that King and his friends became involved in an altercation with the police and a security guard. Police said that one of King’s associates was found harassing a female in the bathroom for sex against her will.
The security was alerted, and they came and escorted the man out of the establishment. According to police, when King saw that his friend was being taken out, he intervened, and stopped the security guards from ejecting his friend, telling them that if his friend was taken out, he would make a report to the security guard’s boss, for him to be fired.
During the exchange of words, King’s friend, Diego Witz, allegedly punched the security guard. The police officer who was on duty in the area was called, and when he tried to arrest King’s friend for punching the security guard, King became incensed and had a temper tantrum — ripping down decorations inside the casino.
A police report dated February 6, 2013, said that “at about 2:30 a.m. on Tuesday, February 5, he [Constable Nelson Ramos] was performing special duties at the Princess Casino when he saw Diego Witz, Jr., attempting to punch one of the security guards at the casino. He intervened, but was allegedly punched by Diego Witz, Jr. As a result, he placed Diego Witz under arrest.”
Nelson Ramos, PC #1021, “swore to an information and complaint,” and formally arrested and charged Diego Witz, Jr. for the offence of “assaulting a police officer”.
While waiting at the police booth for the police mobile unit, said the report, Mark King, Minister of State in the Ministry of Human Development and Social Transformation, allegedly intervened to have Witz released. Witz was placed in the pan of the police mobile unit and Minister Mark King also reportedly got into the pan of the unit, where the Minister allegedly threatened and assaulted the police officer. Police then reportedly arrested and charged Mark King.
Diego Witz was taken to the Corozal Magistrate’s Court for allegedly punching police officer Nelson Ramos outside the Princess Casino while he attempted to restrain the allegedly belligerent and hysterical Minister Mark King. He pleaded not guilty and was offered bail of four thousand dollars plus a surety in the same amount.
When King and Witz were taken to the Corozal Police Station, however, according to the police, King was threatening the officer. King was then charged with aggravated assault, threatening words and disorderly conduct. The Prime Minister, upon hearing about Hon. Mark King’s behavior, suspended him from Cabinet for three months without pay.
The case against King was prosecuted by Police Prosecutor Assistant Superintendent Daniel Arzu. In presenting the case, he called four witnesses, including Constable Nelson Ramos, who arrested King.
However when Ramos took the stand, he shocked the court by withdrawing his statement, saying that he would no longer pursue the case.
Although the prosecutor was now handicapped, since he no longer had the arresting officer to assist him, he called on three other officers, but they, incredibly, were unable to identify King from the stand as the man who was brought into the station the early morning of Tuesday, February 5.
This was another blow to the prosecution, and the prosecutor was not able to continue. Magistrate Clive Lino then dismissed the case for lack of evidence based on the police officers’ testimony withdrawal.
The Commissioner of Police, Allen Whylie, was not happy with the outcome of the case. Venting his frustration yesterday at a police press conference in Belmopan, the Commissioner said that the officer was a police officer, and did not have the authority to withdraw the case, or to refuse to testify. He said he viewed the matter seriously, and has ordered an investigation against the policeman.
The Commissioner said that what was done in Court is a breach of the public trust and he would ensure that all measures be taken to ensure that such a breach is not committed again. He said that Assistant Commissioner, Noel Leal, the commander of the Professional Standards Branch, had been sent to Corozal to head an internal investigation and he would make a recommendation to him at its conclusion.
The Commissioner said that he would seek legal advice, but did not believe that King could be arrested and tried again for the offences.
Assistant Commissioner Leal has concluded his investigation, and today Commissioner Whylie ordered an immediate interdiction from duty of Constable Nelson Ramos, who refused to testify against Hon. King in the Corozal Magistrate’s Court. The Northern Region Zone Commander, Joseph Myvette, has been appointed to prosecute Ramos, and the case in the Police Tribunal has been adjourned to Wednesday, June 26.