Important Note: This Internet version of 7 News is a verbatum
transcript of our evening television news script. Many interviews on our newscast
are conducted in Creole. In the interest of clarity for our foreign readers,
we attempt to paraphrase the Creole quotes in English
Tonight, the authorities continue to search for Kevin Carcamo, the missing chairman of Hattieville Village. The last time his family saw him was on Sunday, when he left very early to report to work, but at the end of the day, he wasn't with the rest of his crew.
He's part of a group of men who work for Discover-seis, an oil exploration company which does seismic testing to find where oil is located in commercial quantities. They were searching for oil a few kilometres away from Freetown Sibun, just past Hattieville, but he never returned from that expedition.
Today, we found police and other civilians out searching for him, and Rural Executive Officer told us this evening that the longer he's missing, the more worried they are about his health:
ASP Chris Noble - Rural Executive Officer "Basically what we have is that the gentleman has been missing for some time now and it's now time where we are kind of worried about his state. Bringing in several agencies; there is a rescue team from Belmopan, they gave us some very good help, some very information today and the villagers - we have persons on t6he ground that have very good knowledge of the area. All of this has been done in collaboration with the company and their employees and they also have villagers that are employees. The department has sent in 18 personnel that are still on the ground and we have other uniformed personnel on the ground likewise along with the military the BDF, they've been supplying us with a steady amount of personnel to check the areas marking them and see if going over them something may have been missed. Mr. Carcamo is still out there and we are hoping for a very good end to this."
Daniel Ortiz "Is there anything from any of the teams which has gone out which suggests or provide any evidence that that causes for worry other than just him being missing for this long?"
ASP Chris Noble - Rural Executive Officer "At this stage it's basically him being missing. Being known to a lot of the persons that are here and all of the persons that are now volunteering their time Mr. Carcamo - its definitely time for us to worry because he is not known by these persons as that."
Yesterday, we attempted to get a comment from his employers at Discover-seis in Hattieville, but we were told that we had to contact the management in Valley of Peace, Cayo. Today, we went to the main Valley of Peace office, but person authorized to speak on the topic was not available at the time. We did manage to speak with him by phone this evening, and he outlined Sunday's work day. Here's how he explained the moment when they discovered that Carcamo was missing:
Marvin Manzanero, Assistant Project Manager, Discoverseis "They were working on this line 24 south of Freetown Sibun, south across the river. They quit working about 3p.m. in the evening, so they had to walk out about 45 minutes - catch a boat across the river to come across. We try to stop work before the sun goes down. That day we had come out about 5:30 in the evening. When we went to the sub base in Hattieville the guy made a head count and realize that one person was missing, so they got together, made a search crew and went back to the line where they had just left in search of Mr. Carcamo. Before they went they took their flashlights because it was about 5:30 to 6:00 they had to get ready. Because of our policy procedures we can't leave nobody behind, this is team work and a group of about 20 people gathered together and drove all the way back to the Freetown Sibun, jump across the boat in search of this guy because we can't leave anybody behind."
"We went back there and stayed about 3 O' clock in the morning and up to today we have the army out there, we have the police assisting us, we have a crew of 75 people out there assisting us which is the company's crew. We actually basically stop production right now to go and see if we can locate this person."
Daniel Ortiz "In a situation like this, there will always be those in the public who will wonder and criticize the company how is it that a company who have a strict set of guidelines ends up missing one of its employees and it is not discovered until such a late time?"
Marvin Manzanero, Assistant Project Manager, Discoverseis "Walking on a line on a path is about 1.2 meters, they are walking one behind the other in a sequence, so it's a little bit hard to count on a line where you have 45 people. They are basically spread out about 5-10 meters apart. So when everybody walked out - people are rushing out to come out of the line - people want to go home. Whenever they get to a certain point that's when they do the head count."
Carcamo is known to be a very experienced hunter and is considered to be capable in the bush.
This morning police descended on a home at 3150 Supal Street. When they left, they arrested everyone in the yard, even a 72 year old for drug possession.
And so this evening, those eight persons were taken to court and arraigned for drug trafficking of 6.5 grams of crack cocaine before Magistrate Herbert Panton.
They are 72 year old Marion Plunkett, 25 year old Michael Plunkett, 24 year old Kathlee Reyes, 34 year old Carlos Mckenzie,28 year old Kareem Williams,19 year old Tamika Faber, 44 year old Raymond Alvarez and 22 year old Sheffield Fitzgibbon. They all pled not guilty to the charge. Marion Plunkett was offered a bail of $500 on her own recognizance while the others were offered a bail of $1,500 each.
Now you're probably saying what's a 72 year old doing going to court on a drug possession charge? Well, her neighbors say she didn't possess anything; they say the GSU planted the drugs - one of them spoke to us off camera:..
Voice of: Enid Williams, Mother of Accused "My son is at (piss house) right now, he will get charged for something that we doesn't even know about because the GSU just came in the yard and they say they found some drugs and they took everyone. They took an innocent lady who is in her 80s. When anybody smoke weed in her yard she is driving them away - she doesn't tolerate that in her yard. My son doesn't smoke crack, he don't sell that. They don't promote that through this street here. The only thing we do in this yard is play a little bit of card and everybody enjoyed it because we only do it for fun."
Reporter "Where exactly did they say they found the crack cocaine?"
Voice of: Enid Williams, Mother of Accused "They didn't say where they found it. They brought in the dogs and the dogs didn't find anything and they don't want anybody to talk."
Jules Vasquez "So you think they planted it?"
Voice of: Enid Williams, Mother of Accused "Exactly, they planted it."
Tonight, a man from Chunox village in the Corozal District is in critical condition at the KHMH after a vicious beat down. It happened on Sunday night at around 10:00 in Chunox when four men pounced on 19 year old Jose Danilo Monzon right in front of his house and gave him a vicious beat down. His common law wife, 20-year-old Mariacel Itzel Tun tried to intervene and they beat her up too - even though she is pregnant! He was left in a critical condition and has been transferred to the KHMH while Mariacel's injuries were certified as Harm and she had to see a gynecologist because she is four months pregnant and was experiencing pain to the lower back and the abdomen. The four men have been detained but were not charged today.
The Felix brothers, Emory and Maurice are finally tasting freedom tonight after eight years on remand and three murder trials. Court reports say the nolle pros document was finally filed after their most recent hung jury in mid May. The brothers Maurice and Emory Felix, had been on remand for the murder of Mitchum Heredia since 2006 and had three trials which ended in hung juries.
They have maintained their innocence throughout and claimed that they were at home at the time of the murder in April 2006.
Today thirty-one year old Wilfred Stanley, a laborer of Neal Pen Road was sentenced to 1 year in prison after pleading guilty to 6 counts of handling stolen goods, namely jewellry.
Police charged Stanley on May 19th after they recovered $8,750 worth of jewelry from pawnshops - all the items had been stolen from a house in West Landivar.
The jewelry belongs to 29 year old Janelle Reyes, and it was taken when the house was burglarized between April 9th and April 12th.
Some of it was recovered on May 16 from three pawnshops: J L Quick Loan, JEC Company Limited and Fair Brothers, but over $2000 worth of jewelry is still missing. Stanley said in court that he was only helping a friend when he pawned the jewelry.
He was sentenced by Magistrate Herbert Panton, and will only serve 1 year because the sentences are to run concurrently.
Last night, we told you about 68 year-old retiree Alfonso Manzanero, the man from Belmopan who was knocked down when 3 men tried to help him get his vehicle out of a ditch.
Police have been treating his death as a fatal traffic accident, but there were some strange aspects of the case, which had to be scrutinized. The post mortem has been conducted on his body, and today, the acting officer commanding Belmopan Police told us that its findings support that Manzanero died of an unfortunate accident - not any kind of malice or foul play. Here's how he explained it:
Inspector Dennis Myles, Acting OC - Belmopan "Yesterday around 1:30 the post mortem on the body of Mr. Alfonso Manzanero was conducted in Belize City where the medical officer certify the cause of death was traumatic shock due to road traffic accident."
Daniel Ortiz "Sir, can you just briefly explain to us what the evidence presented to Belmopan police is in relation to how this gentleman was knocked down?"
Inspector Dennis Myles, Acting OC - Belmopan "The police is in the process of gathering their statement which they are doing right now and as I mention earlier we will prepare a file and send it the file to the DPP and she will give us her directive with all the statements that we compile in the file."
Daniel Ortiz "Is there anything in the evidence you've gathered so far which allows you or give us cause for questioning what has been said or what is the scenario presented to the police so far?"
Inspector Dennis Myles, Acting OC - Belmopan "From what we gathered I know it appears to us that as if though it is an outright traffic accident. We are dealing with is as a fatal traffic accident."
Inspector Myles told us that when they send the investigation's file to the DPP's Office, the crown counsels there will determine if any criminal charges should be brought against the person who was behind the wheel at the time of the accident.
Nasley Sommerville, the administrator of the Southern Regional Hospital who was implicated in an audit, was a no-show at her public service commission tribunal hearing today in Belmopan. As we've told you, the Auditor General believes that she was involved in the misappropriation of just over 366 thousand dollars of public funds.
We're told that there was an indication that she would show up with her attorney for the tribunal hearing today. That hearing was to have started at 9 a.m., but when she didn't present herself, the case had to be adjourned. We're told that the reason she didn't show up was because she hadn't been properly notified. So, the hearing will have to be rescheduled for another day.
But today, we've learned a little more about the origin of those public funds which went missing. The 366 thousand dollars which was misappropriated actually comes from Social Security. The way it worked is that the SSB paid out monies to the different hospitals for the use of maternity and prenatal cases, but it wasn't placed directly into a Government of Belize bank account. Those monies actually went into a special account - which should have had oversight of the accounting officer, in this case the CEO.
The Caribbean Court of Justice is the highest Court in Belize, Barbados and Guyana but right now the court is under pressure at its headquarters in Trinidad. News reports from Port of Spain say that the court is facing internal legal battles resulting from a series of dismissals, resignations and suspensions of senior managers. The Court says it is restructuring after 10 years, but half of the 72 employees have joined a union to lodge grievances against the court - mainly about a change in the salary payment system.
On top of that, the court's senior managers have hired an attorney who is preparing to file suit against the court according to the Trinidad Sunday Express.
Perhaps most damning is the account from the dismissed acting registrar of the Court, Jamaican Dr Leighton Jackson, who was escorted out of the Court's Headquarters in May.
He told the Jamaica Gleaner, quote, "Based on the incidents of mismanagement, arbitrariness and judicial misconduct, I think the current structure of the court is incomplete and insufficient" end quote.
His predecessor Paula Pierre had resigned at the end of 2013 citing what she called a toxic atmosphere to work in. Jackson is also contemplating legal action against the CCJ.
And to add to the mounting embarrassment, one of the judges Jacob Wit was accused of firing his driver because the driver didn't want to scalp two complimentary tickets the judge had received to a Carnival event. The Judge later told the Trinidadian media that he did ask his former driver to sell tickets for a Carnival show, but they were tickets his wife bought and not the complimentary ones given to him by the National Carnival Commission. The judge added that there was no relation whatsoever between the incident and the driver being released.
Today, the Prime Minister and his Ministers held a Cabinet meeting in Belmopan, and on the agenda was a discussion of a replacement for the Late Alfredo "Fred" Martinez, who was the Ambassador to Guatemala for 11 years.
The news on that topic is that the Government has found someone who they believe is capable of replacing Martinez as Ambassador. This afternoon, the Minister of Foreign Affairs spoke with the media about the progress of that Cabinet Meeting, in which the replacement was discussed:
Hon. Wilfred Elrington, Minister of Foreign Affairs "I can tell you that we have made good progress I think so far. I think the Prime Minister is having a press conference very shortly. It's the Prime Minister's responsibility to appoint ambassadors and therefore he is going to advise the nation on that matter at the earliest possible time. I think he says he is going to have his press conference next week Wednesday. I don't know if its tomorrow or next week, but he regards the replacement of the ambassador in Guatemala as a matter of the utmost urgency and importance. He has acted on the matter with alacrity and I think he is going to notify the nation of the appointment certainly within the next 7 days."
Reporter "I am certain that your opinion was called into account. Can you say any at all what was the process to arrive at one final person, if that's what happened?"
Hon. Wilfred Elrington, Minister of Foreign Affairs "This morning in the Cabinet, we had a Cabinet meeting and the Prime Minister articulated his views as to why he thought that person who he has identify is the best person. It turned out that the views which he expressed were views shared by almost all of us in the Cabinet, if not all of us. He thought that that person was an excellent choice."
Elrington refused to reveal Martinez's replacement, explaining that it is the job of the Prime Minister to appoint Ambassadors. He added that the Prime Minister has scheduled a press conference to inform the nation on the new Ambassador to Guatemala. That announcement will be made within the next 7 days.
Puerto Azul - we haven't heard that name in the news for a while but the campaign to block the development is still going strong. Today the six conservation and tourism organizations opposed to the project issued a release saying, quote, " Belize's largest conservation and tourism organizations, as well as members of the public, have joined forces in opposition to a proposed seven star mega-resort on Belize's most remote coral reefs."
The release says that the investors are moving forward with the studies required for environmental clearance but notes that government has not approved it - and neither have they bought the island.
The conservation groups say that selective clearing is also happening on the cayes.
The group says that they are unable to support a tourism venture, quote, "whose infrastructure will irreversibly alter the same environment that is meant to attract visitors."
Belize City Mayor Darrell Bradley is on an extended west coast tour of the United States. It started in Las Vegas, Nevada on July 11th when the City Council accompanied the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to engage the Belizean diaspora in that area. They held the first Belizean Town Hall Meeting in Las Vegas where Ministry staff updated Belizeans living abroad on their benefits when moving back to Belize. Minister Elrington and Mayor Bradley then spoke about government issues and programs for Belizeans, updating them on the state of their country. Mayor Bradley then moved on to Los Angeles where toured of different government departments and met with dignitaries such as the President of the City Council, the Director of City Services and the President of Public Works in LA. Unofficial reports say he snagged two street sweepers for Belize.
Today, Taiwan's new Ambassador to Belize, Benjamin Ho held his first press conference. He introduced 12 visiting student volunteers from a prestigious technical university called the National Tsing Hua University in Taiwan. They will be touring rural Cayo and visiting various schools in the area to donate computers and school supplies. Our intern Robin Schaffer found out more.
Robin Schaffer reporting
12 students from the National Tsing Hua University in Taiwan are in Belize. Today at a press briefing, Ambassador Benjamin Ho, told us about the university and why the students are here.
Benjamin Ho, Ambassador of Taiwan "Tsing Hua University, a prestigious university not only in Taiwan. The university is just like MIT in the States. The university is very strong in technology and science, but they are also the liberal arts education too. They want to go to remote areas to help those under privilege people to network with the other part of the world particularly the internet. This is their purpose of coming over here. They come here to bring their love, not only their love, but also bring quite a lot of gifts."
While the students expressed their love for the country, it is quite a cultural shift from the fast paced city of Hsinchu in Taiwan (Use video of Taipei) to the quiet village of San Antonio in Cayo.
Aaron, Volunteer "I think Taipei give me a lot of exposure and I think everyone is anxious in a small surrounding and it feels very comfortable. I really feel that the people are very kind and everything is good here."
Chun-Heng Chen, Group Leader "We will go into the town and go into the houses and talking to the locals and get together with them in their daily lives and see what they need. I think it is very important for us because this is the first year that I came here."
Last year volunteers donated over 2 sets of solar power panels and batteries to El Progresso School in Santa Elena Town. This year's donations include 26 sets of desktop computers, 11 notebooks along with school supplies. The volunteers will return to Taiwan in the middle of August.
We hear it on the news almost every night - that the file is being sent to the DPP for her review. But, what happens when the DPP goes on study leave? According to reports, that's just what has happened: Cheryl Lynn Vidal has gone on three months approved study leave. Those reports say that in the interim a Senior Crown Counsel will act in her post. Vidal has been DPP since mid 2008.