Back in April 2018 we told you about the difficulties faced by the prosecution in the case against the three Mexican nationals Belen Hernandez, Joscat Jafet Hernandez and Lionel Isaac Rodriguez.
The trio is accused of stealing from Atlantic Bank between November 2017 and January 2018 via various ATM machines throughout the country, including the Free Zone, Corozal Town, Orange Walk Town, Belize City, San Pedro Town, Caye Caulker and San Ignacio.
The trio was busted in the Corozal District with a huge bundle of Mexican pesos. Authorities used a water bill to trace them to an apartment in the Ladyville area where they had been staying since December. That's where police took custody of several computers and other electronic items - which are being scanned for information that give some clue as to their activities in Belize.
It seemed an airtight case for Police, but we noted that the investigations was clearly in trouble in April last year when the prosecution was unable to present disclosure to the Mexicans for the theft charge against them. The case based on that charge was thrown out, but authorities still held the individuals as they placed new charges.
Rodriguez faced five charges, while the Hernandez couple faced two.
Last week, the trial commenced with a number of witnesses including Bank Manager Pedro Lozano and computer systems operator Robert Garcia. Today the witnesses included Inspector Wilfredo Ferrufino who is the head of the investigation team.
After hearing Inspector Ferrufino’s testimony this afternoon, defense attorney for the Mexicans, Leslie Hamilton, got up to enter a no case submission before the court.
Hamilton based his submission on two points, first that no evidence that links the defendants to the offense of theft was presented and that there was no evidence that Atlantic Bank was the owner of the items claimed stolen which included international cards and over thousands of dollars in pesos. Hamilton indicated that among the international cards presented, none were Atlantic Bank cards, and in fact no card was presented as evidence to the court.
He submitted to the court that the defendants should instead be acquitted and the matter dismissed. Hamilton cited the case of the Queen and Galbraith which established the circumstances of a case in which a jury should accept a no case submission request.
The application stands now before Magistrate Lionel Olivera, but first he will hear a response from the prosecution on Monday January 28th. Magistrate Olivera will then deliver his decision on January 30th.