By Marion V. Ali
Two taxi drivers who were good friends, from the same neighbourhood, and who earned their living working from the same taxi stand, were murdered within one day of each other, while on the night shift, in Belmopan.
The homicides have left investigators wondering if the murders of Yoni Maas, 24, and Isidro Suar, 28, were related or simply coincidental. Police have since advised the taxi drivers who operate at the Belmopan bus terminal to communicate with each other when they are going on a job, especially late at night.
Maas went missing last week Thursday night after he waited for the last bus to arrive at the Belmopan terminal. His family didn’t hear from him again and all calls and texts to his phone went unanswered.
Their searches for him spanned three days without clues, until shortly before 10:00 a.m. on Sunday, when a farmer, walking on a feeder road in the Mount Pleasant area, found his body in some bush.
Maas’ family received the horrible news of his murder from another brother, while at church service on Sunday morning. The message was that Maas was discovered dead and his taxi was missing. He was shot multiple times to the upper body – something that has his family at a loss, because Maas, to their knowledge, had no enemies.
Police believe that, based on a report from Maas’ family, someone wanted to involve his taxi car in an armed robbery and he refused. His reluctance to participate might be a probable motive for his murder. His car is still missing.
Suar’s bullet-riddled body was discovered shortly before 11:00 p.m., last Friday, lying face down at the corner of the George Price Boulevard and Victoria Peak Street in the vicinity of Chon Saan Restaurant in the Piccini area of Belmopan.
This was shortly after residents reported hearing five distinct gunshots. When his body was recovered, it was discovered that he had been shot behind the right ear and in the back.
Belmopan police believe Suar’s killers were the occupants of his taxi which they intercepted a few miles away in Ontario village, Cayo.
Police say one of the three occupants fled, but the other two were found in possession of 12 live .38 rounds of ammunition. A search of the area also yielded a .22 pistol and three live rounds of ammunition.
The pair, Lincoln Bejerano, and a 17-year-old girl, were charged with ‘keeping ammunition without a gun license’, ‘keeping a firearm without a gun license’, ‘robbery’ and ‘conspiracy to commit robbery’. They were remanded to the Hattieville Prison and are due back in court on March 11th. Bejerano is still before the court for an armed robbery which took place in 2014.
While police have alerted taxi drivers to look out for one another, the department has also beefed up patrols in and around Belmopan, with help from the Special Patrol Unit (SPU). But the taxi drivers are asking anyone who is willing to assist, to install cameras in the area in order to track who they leave with when they go about their work.