Crime

Belizean Joseph Budna sentenced to 25 years in Guatemala court

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABelizean freelance reporter, Joseph Budna, 33, has been found guilty on a charge of kidnapping by a Guatemala court and sentenced to 25 years in prison on Friday, May 10.

It is not known at this time if Budna, who is facing additional charges, including extortion, will appeal the sentence.

Budna has repeatedly denied the kidnapping and extortion charges.

He was indicted in August 2012, for the kidnapping of a U.S. teenager, Luis Byron Reyes Onofre.

Budna maintains that the youth staged the kidnapping in order to get money from his father.

The  boy’s father, Luis August Reyes Salazar, was asked to pay one million quetzals for the return of his son, who was being held on a farm in Honduras.

Reports coming out of Guatemala indicated that the father paid two undisclosed sums of money, before his son was returned to him safely. He paid the money to two men via Western Union in Honduras.

Believed to be the mastermind of a regional kidnapping ring operating in Guatemala, Honduras, Belize and Mexico, Budna was arrested last September by the Policia Nacional Civil (PNC), after an exchange of gunfire.

Budna, according to reports out of Guatemala, still has other kidnapping charges to answer.

He is also facing arms trafficking and extortion charges in Chiquimula, Guatemala.

In May 2012, Budna was the victim of an  extortion attempt, when two men on a motor scooter tried to get him to pay them $15,000 quetzales.

The men reportedly told him that someone had put a hit on him and if he wanted to stay alive he had to pay-up.

Budna  promised the extortionists that he would get the money, but instead he returned with the police and an exchange of gunfirefolllowed in which Guatemalan police shot and killed  Mateo Steve Caballos Vasquez, 24, one of the two extortionists.

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