Inspector Robert Mariano, Officer in Charge of the Orange Walk Police Department, confirmed to Amandala today that some of his policemen, including a policewoman, had beaten up a 15-year-old boy, a labourer.
Mariano, a no-nonsense officer, said that he did receive the report, and at this time he is waiting for the results of a medico-legal form to clarify the young man’s injuries. He added that he was not at the station at the time of the arrest, but cannot see any justifiable reason for the beating.
Mariano said that he does not tolerate police brutality and as soon as the teen is released from the Northern Regional Hospital, he will have him visit the station in an effort to identify the officers that allegedly beat him up.
The minor, we were told, was detained for questioning with regards to a robbery at a home. At this time he could not say whose home it is, said Mariano, but he has asked the investigating officer to forward the case file to him. If there is any evidence, the teen will be charged for the robbery, but if there is no evidence, then he will be set free.
“The officers could be charged in the criminal court or under the police disciplinary code. If they are found guilty, they could be charged something like $300 and ordered to pay the expenses that the teen’s family has paid for medication, or towards medical expenses,” said Mariano.
What makes matters worse for the officers is that the teen was detained and questioned without a parent, guardian, Justice of the Peace or social worker being present, which makes his detention and questioning an offense against Belize’s laws.
George Allen, 15, a resident of the Orange Walk District, told a local television station in his area that sometime around 9:00 on Saturday night, January 20, he was walking along Oleander Street heading home when he met one of his friends on a bicycle.
Allen said that he asked his friend if he could take him home and the friend said “yes”, so he (Allen) jumped onto the bicycle handle. A little ways up the street he saw a police vehicle coming, however, and quickly jumped off the bicycle handle.
Allen said that the police mobile stopped and one officer accused him of burglarizing a home – an ex-policeman’s home, specifically. That is when one of the officers began hitting him, said Allen.
An officer, whom he knows well by name, then placed his hand behind his back and slammed his head into the rear of the pickup, and continued punching him. They then put him in the vehicle and took him to the police station, leaving his friend there.
At the station a female officer kicked him in the butt, slapped him and told an officer to take him to the holding cell, said Allen. The officer taking him to the cell mashed his toes intentionally, telling him, “Ah wah cut aff all ah yuh toe.”
Taking him to the cell, the officer hit him on the side of the head, said Allen.
He was left there until Monday morning, January 22, when an officer told him that the “bossman” wanted to see him, and took him to an office for questioning. They told him to take off all his clothes, which he did, said Allen. He was then told to place his penis on a chair in front of him, so that they could “lash” it. That he did not do, so they handcuffed him and started beating him. He was punched, slapped and knocked on his temple until his eyes started turning up, until his hand was bruised, and his tongue and hand began to get blue. I told them that they would beat me to death, and that I could not take the beating any more, said Allen.
They continued torturing him, and he was forced to say that he had committed the burglary they were accusing him of. They made him drop to his knees and perform push-ups on his elbow. He only did thirty and they told him to do more, but he told them that he was weak and could not do any more.
They then took him back to the holding cell. He tried resting, but was in so much pain the officers took him over to the Northern Regional Hospital (NRH), where the “bossman” Mariano met him in a bed being attended to. Mariano asked him what had happened, and assured him that he would immediately launch an investigation into the matter.
Allen said that he was accused of stealing a DVD and some bags from the ex-police officer’s home