General — 17 July 2019 — by Albert J. Ciego
Joseph Budna free, but for how long?

To get Budna back in Guat jail, Guats must go to BZ Foreign Affairs ministry, says Compol

BELMOPAN, Mon. July 15, 2019– Joseph Budna, 38, a Belizean who has been serving a 30-year jail sentence in a jail in Guatemala after he was convicted of kidnapping and other offences in Guatemala, but who escaped from a hospital in Guatemala in May and made his way to Belize, was arrested by police in Camalote, Cayo District, last Thursday morning. Budna said that when he was captured walking on the road in Camalote, he took police to his mother’s house where he was living, and the officers conducted a search, but nothing was found, and he was taken into custody.

Commissioner of Police Chester Williams has said that if the Guatemalans want Budna, they have to make a request for him through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Williams said that such a request is not strange, or out of the ordinary. Belize police have worked with their counterparts in Guatemala to have prisoners returned to Belize, and the Guatemalans have worked with Belize authorities for the return of prisoners to Guatemala.

ACP Joseph Myvett said that so far, no letter has been sent to them or to the authorities seeking Budna’s return. He said that even when the request is made to extradite him, the matter will be sent to the court and the court will make an order.

Presently, there is no official extradition treaty between the two countries, but there is an understanding, said Williams. After it was established that there are no charges against Budna in the jurisdiction of Belize and he has no pending matter in Belize’s courts, he was released, since police had no legal basis for keeping him in custody.

Today, the announcement was made by police that Budna has been released and might not have to serve the remaining 22 years of jail time he would have had to serve in a Guatemalan jail, of the 30-year-sentence he had received.

Budna said that that he was treated inhumanely in a Guatemalan jail — that he was shot, stabbed and beaten in the prison. He believed that he would have been killed in the jail, and decided to escape before his life was taken.

In an interview with the media today, Budna described the scares he endured and said that he would not want another Belizean to go through the ordeal he suffered at the hands of the Guatemalan authorities. He said that he has changed, and that he was not a kidnapper, but that he was framed. He wants to get back to working with the media and to show the public that he has made a change in his life.

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