General

Did Belmopan Cops mislead judge in the slaying of Panamanian diplomat?

Director of Public Prosecutions Cheryl Lynn Vidal is scheduled to meet with police officials in Belmopan on Thursday to discuss the case of 18-year old Wilser Eschevarria, who was charged by Police for the murder of Panamanian Chargé de Affairs, Jose Rodrigo de la Rosa Stanford.

Police sources say that the meeting will more likely address allegations that police misled Magistrate Aretha Ford on Wednesday, when they sought the formal arraignment of Escheverria.

On Wednesday, Belmopan police were unable to formally arraign Eschevarria for murder after two attempts to do so.

They were prevented because the suspect has provided a confession statement in which he admits to killing de la Rosa , but insists that he acted in self-defence

Section 36(7) of the Criminal Code states that, “Where a person is alleged to have killed another person and the accused person claims that he did so for …..the defence of himself…no charge shall be laid or prosecution commenced against such person for the offence of murder except with the leave of the Director of Public Prosecutions given in writing.”

The arraignment procedure was brought to a halt when police were unable to provide that written directive from the DPP.

But the story is much more complicated. There are allegations that at 1:30 pm police informed Magistrate Aretha Ford that DPP Cheryl-Lynn Vidal was in possession of the file, and had in fact given the green light.

But that was not the case.
In an interview on Wednesday, DPP Vidal stated: “I have received no file from any police officer in relation to the matter and they could not possibly therefore have been waiting for any directive from me.”
The DPP was informed that proceedings were in progress, and sent word to the Magistrate that she was being misled. Magistrate Ford then adjourned the case for a date to be set.

The allegation that police deliberately attempted to mislead the Magistrate is a serious one.

The road ahead is expected to be a rocky one between DPP Vidal and Belmopan police. In that interview on Wednesday, Vidal declared: “The legislation is very clear that they were not to have charged anyone unless they have a written directive if the person was in fact alleging that he acted in self-defence. They did not do so.”

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