By Benjamin Flowers
Mexican Ambassador Carlos Quesnel Melendez commented on the David Nanes Schnitzer fiasco this week and was not happy that Belize allowed the man wanted by Mexican authorities to escape.
Schnitzer was wanted by Mexican authorities for his role in the ponzi pyramid scheme that defrauded investors of more than seven billion dollars. When he was found residing in San Pedro town, Mexican authorities requested the Government of Belize to extradite Nanes Schnitzer to be tried in Mexico.
Instead, Schnitzer was presented at court and offered bail against strong opposition sighting his high flight risk status. On the same day he was released on bail, November 20 2015, Schnitzer left the country and his whereabouts are still unknown.
Quesnel Melendez said: “It is very regrettable that the judge did take the decision of the bail at that moment. And we do respect the internal laws of this country; we do respect the judicial decisions, so I’m not here as somebody to, you know, to qualify that decision. What I can tell you, the least I can tell you is that after my experience in legal issues, that was a very, that was a very unusual law, bail, under the circumstances of Mr. Nanes Schnitzer”.
Prime Minister Dean Barrow said in a previous interview that the reason Schnitzer was not extradited upon Mexican request was that, in Belize, certain legal process need to be followed, and the court is solely responsible.
Quesnel Melendez added: “I, also as a lawyer, understand that there is a system in Belize that obligates the Belizean government to incorporate that treaty into national law. I’m not going to go into details because that’s not part of our job. I just see the bilateral relationship and I would like us to mention that by international law standards that treaty was fully in force.”
Barrow has expressed that he regrets the decision taken by the court and any damage caused by the fiasco to the bilateral relationship between Belize and Mexico.
Quesnel Melendez said: “The relationship between both countries is very strong, very good, but we do regret this.”
The fact that Schnitzer was allowed to escape from Belizean authorities caused friction between the two countries. Quesnel Melendez said, however, that Mexico is willing to put the incident behind them and continue being good neighbors with Belize, just as long as “We have the guarantees of the Belizean government that this won’t happen again.”
Schnitzer was found to be residing in San Pedro town for the past three years and had obtained Belizean documents including nationality and a passport.
Minister of Immigration, Godwin Hulse, said a report containing the names of the people suspected of facilitating Schnitzer to obtain false documents has been sent to the Public Service Comission (PSC).
Hulse was not able to name names or say how many people are implicated in the report. He said the PSC will determine if the individuals are guilty and criminally liable.