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Budna recaptured in Belize

Joseph Budna escaped from a hospital while serving a prison sentence in Guatemala

CAMALOTE, Cayo District, Thurs. July 11, 2019– Joseph Ryan Budna, 38, a Belizean who has been serving a 30-year jail sentence in Guatemala for kidnapping and other crimes, escaped on the morning of May 27 of this year from a hospital in San Benito, Guatemala, and fled to Belize.

He has been hiding in Belize since, but this morning he was recaptured during a police raid at dawn in Camalote, where he was found sleeping in a house. He was immediately arrested and taken to the Belmopan Police Station, where he is being held.

Prensa Libre, a Guatemalan newspaper (online edition), reported that on the morning of May 27, Budna told prison authorities that he was not feeling well and requested to see a doctor. It was not reported how he managed to escape from the hospital to which he was taken; however, the newspaper noted that there was minimum security at the hospital.

Thereafter, Guatemala’s National Police and agents of their judicial system began the hunt to recapture him.

During the regular police press brief held this morning at the Raccoon Street Police Station, ACP Joseph Myvett said that Budna is in custody and it is not yet known what will happen to him.

We recall that during a police press brief in May, after Budna escaped and was believed to be heading to his home country, Commissioner of Police Chester Williams said that if he were captured in Belize, he would be returned through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to jail in Guatemala, where he would continue serving his jail sentence.

The Commissioner said that Guatemala’s police have a good working relationship with Belize’s police, and that by handing him back to the Guatemalan authorities, we would reinforce the good relationship between the two countries’ law authorities.

With Budna’s arrest this morning, it is expected that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will be alerted and arrangements to return him through diplomatic channels will begin.

However, Belizean authorities might open discussions with Guatemalan authorities to see if Budna, who might be considered eccentric, could complete his sentence in Belize, because shortly after his escape from jail, Budna called KREM Radio and explained that he was being beaten and mistreated in the jail in Guatemala, and he requested help from the authorities in Belize.

Budna, a former freelance reporter in Belize, was convicted on kidnapping and abduction charges in 2013 by a court in Guatemala. He had run afoul of the law in Belize prior to going to Guatemala.

He was sentenced to ten years in prison in 2000 for aggravated assault and an unnatural crime against a 14-year-old boy, but he was a free man by 2008. He reportedly tried to commit suicide by jumping from a tower at the Belize Central Prison in 2006.

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