“The Bar Association is compelled to remind the general public that all accused persons are entitled to be convicted by trial before a court of competent jurisdiction and not trial by press or by social media.” These are the penned words of the Bar Association of Belize (“The Bar”) on Friday, when it addressed the court of “public opinion” on matters associated with last week’s drug-plane bust.
The Bar, while also calling for due process for the four police officers who have been arrested and charge in relation to the drug-trafficking bust, also came to the defense of the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP). “The Bar Association also notes with concern the many baseless and scurrilous statements on social media attempting to link the Director of Public Prosecutions, Mrs. Cheryl Lynn Vidal SC, to the offence on the basis of the alleged involvement of a police officer assigned as her security detail and by virtue of the position held in the police force by her estranged husband. Again the allegations are speculative, irresponsible and indeed defamatory.”
The Bar also underscored the point that the DPP has not been formally linked with the narco-plane bust by any official body. “There has been not the slightest suggestion by anyone in authority,” The Bar argues, “that Mrs. Vidal SC was in any way involved in the drug trafficking. … to assert guilt by virtue of mere association with her officially assigned security officer and her estranged husband is to perpetuate a logical fallacy.”
The rare statement from the association follows an even rarer public statement issues this week by the DPP. As The Reporter has reported, the DPP, in her statement, distanced herself from the drug-trafficking incidence, writing: “I had no knowledge or suspicion of, and no involvement in, the events of last Friday.”
She then went on to label the comments made in the public, which attempt to link her to the actions of her former security detail Cpl Delwin Casimiro as, ”hurtful, scurrilous and utterly untrue.”
According to Vidal, in an effort to avoid any conflict of interest in the matter, her office will not participate in the investigation or prosecution of the officers. Vidal then went on to entrust her confidence in the Commissioner of Police Chester Williams who she says will “spare no effort to bring the offenders to justice.”
Both the Bar’s and Vidal’s statement succeed last week’s arrest of the accused officers. The Commissioner of Police Chester Williams, speaking at a press conference on Friday, November 5th, confirmed the officers involvement. “While we do celebrate the fact that we were able to intercept this load, there is also the disappointment to have found out that police officers are involved,” lamented the Commissioner.