(CMR) Four Belizean police officers have been charged with manslaughter after detainee 20-year-old Derrick Uh died in a prison van after being left there for 13 hours.
According to reports, Uh was found dead around 5 o’clock on Sunday evening, after being inside the van from around 1:00 a.m. on Sunday morning, when he was confined, reportedly for drunkenness at the San Joaquin Fair being held in Corozal.
The prison van was taken to the Corozal Police Station, where it was parked, but Uh, was never taken out of the van and placed in the cell block. The police officers reportedly forgot about him.
Inspector Isaias Sanchez who briefed the officers about two prisoners in the van was the most senior officer charged. Sergeant Rosario Romero, who is the diarist who recorded Uh's detention, constable Alrick Borland who helped to detain Uh at the San Joaquin fair, and PC Errol Peralta, who drove the prisoner van from San Joaquin to Corozal were also charged.
According to local reports, all four face charges because they all knew Uh was in the van, but none of them followed up – and he was found dead 13 hours later. Commissioner of Police Chester Williams said the men would have to face some consequences. They were charged after a file was prepared and sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions.
“It is a secure area to keep prisoners, so long as the engine is running and the air is circulating, and in the absence of a police station and cell, they were improvising, which I cannot kill them for that. But the thing is, when they arrived at the police station, they ought to have made sure that the young man was removed from the van, and that was where things went wrong,” Williams said.