General — 04 February 2017 — by Rowland A. Parks
Fight breaks out in Magistrate’s Court holding cell

BELIZE CITY, Wed. Feb. 1, 2017–The huge backlog of cases in the Criminal Division of the Supreme Court in Belize City has been resulting in the movement of large amounts of prisoners from the Kolbe-managed Belize Central Prison in Ladyville. This practice has sometimes resulted in increased tension between prisoners in the small holding cell at the Magistrate’s Court, and on more than one occasion, hostilities have led to physical fights.

Yesterday, Tuesday, about 35 prisoners had court appearance dates and were transported to Belize City. When they got off the prison bus and were being put in the Magistrate’s Court holding cell, a fight erupted between two men who are on remand for separate murders.

John Chessman, who has been accused of a murder in Ladyville in 2012 of a Chinese grocer, was said to be the person who started the fight. Chessman is on remand for his fourth murder accusation. He was acquitted of three other murders.

During the fight, which occurred inside the court building around the holding cell area, Chessman managed to get hold of a glass bottle, but instead of inflicting injuries on his opponent Jayaer Flores, the alleged murderer of Porshan Pipersburgh and his 7-year-old cousin last November, Chessman ended up with a cut on the inside of his hand and under his chin.

During the melee, court police officers unwisely decided to use pepper spray to contain the fighting men, but due to the lack of ventilation in the holding cell area, many of the officers in there were observed wiping their eyes due to the effect of their own pepper spray.

Shortly after the incident, some of the remanded prisoners who had already gotten their court adjournment dates were put back on board the prison bus that would transport them back to the Belize Central Prison.

Some of the other prisoners were affected by the pepper spray, especially one who suffers from asthma, and a relative of his had to plead with one of the policemen to give him water that she had bought after she heard the change in his voice and realized that he could have an asthma attack due to him being exposed to the pepper spray.

So far, no charge has been brought against the two prisoners who were fighting.

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