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#356955 - 11/05/09 12:35 AM Francis Eiley exonerated with 2 others
Marty Offline
Murder convictions overturned for 3 in Belize
Associated Press
2009-11-05 04:49 AM

A judicial council in Belize has thrown out the convictions of three men serving life sentences for allegedly bludgeoning a fisherman to death.
Sixty-two-year-old Justo Jairo Perez was killed in San Pedro on Ambergris Caye seven years ago.

Francis Eiley, Ernest Savery and Lenton Polonio were convicted two years later but always maintained their innocence.

The London-based Death Penalty Project represented the men in their appeal. It said Wednesday in a statement that they do not face further legal action and will now go free.

The group said the council ruled the conviction was based on uncorroborated evidence from a single man, who was discovered at the murder scene with bloody clothing and later turned state's witness.

#356959 - 11/05/09 12:41 AM Re: Francis Eiley exonerated with 2 others [Re: Marty]
SP Daily Offline
Wonderful! This has been a sad, sad situation. Congratulations to Norman and Susanna Eiley...and to Francis too...

#356968 - 11/05/09 01:23 AM Re: Francis Eiley exonerated with 2 others [Re: SP Daily]
Marty Offline
amen to that Jesse....

#356986 - 11/05/09 03:02 PM Re: Francis Eiley exonerated with 2 others [Re: Marty]
belizeonthebeach Offline
Welcome Home Chino!!!!!

#356993 - 11/05/09 03:41 PM Re: Francis Eiley exonerated with 2 others [Re: belizeonthebeach]
Marty Offline

For the last seven years they’ve been behind bars serving time for murder but following a decision handed down by the Privy Council in London this morning, three Belizean men are to be set free. In 2004, Lenton Polonio, Francis Eiley and Ernest Savery were convicted of the brutal murder of sixty-three year old San Pedro resident Justo Jairo Perez and sentenced to life imprisonment.

Their convictions were affirmed by the Court of Appeal in 2005 but Polonio, Eiley and Savery continued to maintain their innocence and took their fight to the Privy Council with the help of local attorneys Simeon Sampson and Antoinette Moore. The case was argued in June and this morning the decision of the panel of Justices was that the convictions are to be quashed and the prisoners are to be set free.

The judges found that the prosecution’s star witness in the substantive trial, Frank Vasquez, gave shaky testimony. Vasquez had been apprehended at the scene of the crime wearing bloodstained clothes and carrying a knife. He was later charged with murder but in exchange for immunity, he testified against the other three accused. However, the English court could not understand the discrepancies between Vasquez’s first account to police and the evidence he gave at trial; how he got blood on his clothes and shoes; the strange coincidence that he had no shoe laces and laces were used to tie up the victim and why he was carrying a knife.

This afternoon Moore told 7News that Vasquez had every reason to lie and that no physical evidence or eyewitness had placed any of the accused at the scene. This was pointed out in the decision with the Judges declaring, “It is a remarkable feature of this case that there was absolutely no corroboration of any element of Mr Vasquez’s evidence.”

It is also noteworthy that the board of judges also referred to portions of the trial judge’s directions as “confusing, unnecessary” and even “potentially damaging.” The trial judge in the case was Justice Troadio Gonzalez.

The Justices conclude with, “The critical question is whether having regard to the nature of the evidence given by Mr Vasquez, the circumstances in which it was given and the terms in which the judge summed up the evidence to the jury, the appellants’ convictions are safe. The Board has concluded that they are not. For these reasons their Lordships will humbly advise Her Majesty that the three appeals should be allowed and the convictions of the appellants quashed.” Moore and Sampson are both elated at the Privy Council decision and tell us that as soon as the official orders are sent to the Hattieville Prison their clients will be released.

Justo Perez was found beaten to death in his San Pedro home in November 2002. It is believed that he had surprised burglars who had broken into his home to steal a safe belonging to his neighbours and relatives, the owners of Elvi’s Kitchen.

Channel 7

#356996 - 11/05/09 03:47 PM Re: Francis Eiley exonerated with 2 others [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline
Belize murder convictions quashed by Privy Council

Published on Thursday, November 5, 2009 Email To Friend Print Version

LONDON, England -- Some five years after being convicted for murder and sentenced to life imprisonment, the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council on Wednesday allowed the appeals of three appellants, Francis Eiley, Ernest Savery and Lenton Polonio.

Eiley, Savery and Polonio, who have always maintained their innocence, had been convicted of the murder of Justo Jario Perez in the Supreme Court of Belize on 13th August 2004 and their appeals to the Court of Appeal of Belize were dismissed in August 2005. As a result of Belize preserving the right of appeal to Her Majesty in Council in London (since gaining independence in 1981), Eiley, Savery and Polonio then appealed against their convictions for murder to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in London.

At their original trial, the appellants were convicted solely on the uncorroborated evidence of one man, Frank Vasquez. Remarkably, Vasquez had been apprehended at the scene of the murder with blood stained shoes and clothing and was initially charged with murder. The charge against Vasquez was subsequently withdrawn under an agreement with the Director of Public Prosecutions under which Vasquez was promised immunity from prosecution if he gave truthful evidence at trial. The essence of the appellants' case was that the evidence of Vasquez could not safely support their convictions for murder.

Lord Phillips delivering the judgment of the Board noted that "Mr Vasquez had been caught literally red-handed at the scene of the crime" and "he was a prime suspect". In these circumstances, their Lordships commented that the decision of the prosecution to offer Vasquez immunity if he gave truthful evidence was "on the face of it, surprising".

Their Lordships found that the convictions were unsafe "having regard to the nature of the evidence given by Vasquez, the circumstances in which it was given and the terms in which the judge summed up the evidence to the jury".

"Mr Vasquez had been promised immunity from prosecution if he told the truth. Despite this, his evidence had features that were unsatisfactory and suggested that his primary concern was to distance himself from involvement in the murder. The Board have not been able to dismiss the possibility that on the morning after the murder Mr Vasquez simply pointed to the first group of men that he saw after indicating to the police that he would take them to those who were involved in the crime".

Eiley, Savery and Polonio will not face a fresh trial and they will now be released from Hattiville Correction Centre in Belize.

The appellants were represented pro bono by the Death Penalty Project at Simons Muirhead & Burton. The Death Penalty Project is an international human rights organisation providing free legal representation to many individuals still facing the death penalty in the Caribbean and Africa.

Michael Grieve QC and Tom Allen appeared as Counsel pro bono.

#357022 - 11/05/09 07:30 PM Re: Francis Eiley exonerated with 2 others [Re: Marty]
Ana Lausen Offline
Words cannot express how happy we are for Susana and Norman that Francis's name has been cleared and that he will be coming home.
Ana Lausen
Ambergris Vacation Rentals

#357027 - 11/05/09 07:43 PM Re: Francis Eiley exonerated with 2 others [Re: Ana Lausen]
Marty Offline
Mrs. Susana Eiley and Norman Eiley with their son Francis, one of the three newly freed men.

The Privy Council in London on Wednesday overturned the conviction of three men convicted of the 2002 murder of 62 year old Justo Jairo “Galento” Perez. Perez was murdered inside his home at the corner of Pescador Drive and Ambergris Street on the 2nd of November 2002 in San Pedro Town. On August 13th, 2004, the three men namely Francis Eiley, Ernest Savery and Lenton Polonio were convicted of Perez’s murder and sentenced to life imprisonment. They subsequently appealed their conviction and by August of 2005, the Court of Appeals in Belize dismissed their appeal. After retaining the services of Attorney Antoinette Moore, the trio then further appealed to the Privy Council. The case was heard on June 8th, 2009 before a panel of 5 judges. On Wednesday morning in Her Majesty in Council, Chief Judge Lord Phillip handed down its decision overturning the conviction.

    In summarizing their decision, Lord Phillip stated that, “the appellants (Eiley, Savery and Polonio) were convicted at their original trial solely on the uncorroborated evidence of one man, Frank Vasquez. Vasquez, who was apprehended at the scene of the murder with blood-stained shoes and clothing and who was originally charged with murder, later turned State’s witness. The Judicial Committee upheld the appellants’ case that the evidence of Vasquez could not safely support their convictions for murder.” Lord Phillips, in delivering the judgment of the Board noted that, “Mr. Vasquez had been caught literally red-handed at the scene of the crime and he was a prime suspect. In these circumstances, they commented that the decision of the prosecution to offer Vasquez immunity if he gave truthful evidence was on the face of it, surprising.”

    The Law Lords of the Privy Council concluded that the conviction of Eiley, Savery and Polonio were unsafe, having regard to the nature of the evidence given by Mr. Vasquez, the circumstances in which it was given. Moore told The Sun that all three men are expected to be released in the next few days. Moore stated that, “all three men will be release after being imprisoned for seven years. They were unfairly, unsafely and unsatisfactory convicted of murder without sufficient evidence.” As of press time, the Office of the Director of Public Prosecution was awaiting a written decree for the release of the three men.

San Pedro Sun

#357030 - 11/05/09 07:49 PM Re: Francis Eiley exonerated with 2 others [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline
Chino Innocent and Free

Francis Eiley, popularly known as Chino, has been imprisoned for seven years now, but is today a free man.  Most people in San Pedro, friends and relatives, strongly believed and knew that Chino was innocent of that horrendous criminal charge trumped up on him by the San Pedro Police and the prosecution.  But everyone felt that Chino was innocent and today the justice system of Belize has proven all of us right. Chino has been declared innocent of all charges and has been declared a FREE MAN. 

The declaration has been officially given to the family of Chino, Norman and Susana Eiley, of San Pedro Town.  This has sent rippling waves of emotional happiness and enthusiasm on hundreds of people who have been sympathetic towards Chino and warm hugs and kisses have been pouring on the grieved family who has been crying for justice for the past seven years. 

Today, their cries have been transformed into tears of joy and thanksgiving.  But relatives and friends are not stopping there.  When we visited the Eiley home to share in the happiness, friends were talking about a welcome homecoming to Francis to return to him some of the love and joy that he has been denied for a long time. 

So to Chino we say congratulations on your innocence, thank you for your faith in God's goodness and justice, and a salute to your perseverance. For now Ambergris Today and all of San Pedro would like to say: "Forgive the past and move on to greater endeavors".

Ambergris Today


Francis Eiley happy to be freed of murder charges

The Privy Council on Wednesday dismissed murder convictions on Ernest Savery, Lenton Polonio and Francis Eiley for the 2002 Murder of Justo Perez. Perez was killed at his home in San Pedro and when his body was found, it was gagged and had deep wounds on the head. The motive was robbery. The three men spent seven years in prison until today when they were released following the ruling by the London Privy Council. News Five caught up today with one of the freed men as he took a flight to La Isla Bonita.

Francis Eiley, Freed of Murder
“I just want to thank Allah for his mercy and my mom’s love and I’m innocent and I’ve spent seven years of my life in jail for a crime I didn’t do and it’s overwhelming but first thing’s first I gotta get on with my life and make things happen for myself and my family. The system in Belize needs a check up; the judges, jurors, the prosecution; they are all corrupt. They need some soul searching themselves and the people of Belize noh wah get no justice as long as dehn people weh did deal wid di courts, di deal wid di courts di way dehn di deal wid it. There's a lot of innocent people in jail, besides myself that had less than a fair trial such as myself.”

Anita Nembhard, Freelance court Reporter
“I know that in 2002 when you were arrested you were on remand for about fifteen months and you were released, tell us on what basis were you released and arrested back?”

Francis Eiley
“I was released because it was insufficient evidence for the beginning and they didn’t have nothing to go on except for the word of the person they caught red handed with blood stains on him. To take such a witness with such a character as that to become state evidence, that just shows the character or the desperation that they have to quell crime. But Belize is such a small beautiful country and what's happening in the city and what's happening with the youths, it could be easily curved. All this killing could stop.”

Channel 5


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