General — 17 April 2009 — by Rowland A. Parks
A young man on two crutches appeared this afternoon in the #1 Magistrate’s Court to be arraigned on a charge of murder and conspiracy to commit murder.
Eric Swan appeared undefended, and was allowed to remain seated after he had obvious difficulty in navigating the short steps that lead into the courts.
Chief Magistrate Margaret Gabb-McKenzie told Swan that the charges that she would read to him did not require a plea from him, because they are serious crimes and after a preliminary inquiry is held, if he is committed to stand trial in the Supreme Court, it is there that he would enter his plea of guilty or not guilty.
After having established that ground rule, the Chief Magistrate then read one count of murder and one count of conspiracy to commit murder to Eric Swan, who told the court that his occupation is a fisherman and that he lives in the San Mateo area of San Pedro Town.
He is accused of the January 30 murder of John Paul Saldivar that occurred at a place known as Rocky Point in the Glovers Reef atoll.
Swan was remanded to custody until his next court appearance on May 13, 2009.
When the story first broke in late January, Eric Swan was hospitalized as a consequence of gunshot wounds sustained in an alleged exchange of gunfire with police, who say they were trying to intercept a boat in which Swan allegedly was travelling.
At the time that the incident was reported, Swan was represented by attorney Michael Peyrefitte, who told the media that he would have to wait to see if any charges would be brought against his two clients, Eric Swan and Evan Tun.
Swan was shot in his right leg by police, who confirmed that they fired at the boat in which Swan was allegedly fleeing from them.
Saldivar was shot dead at an abandoned house on Rocky Point, about sixteen miles from San Pedro Town.
Two other men were murdered and their bodies discovered – Edward Gutierrez and Jason Swan, a brother of the accused Eric Swan. When their bodies were discovered, they were already in an advanced state of decomposition.
The tragic series of events lead police to believe that the three murders were all drug-related, especially since a large quantity of US dollars was discovered on a group of Belize City men, who were in San Pedro around the same time that the killings were unfolding.