LAST NIGHT, we brought you a report on a stinging allegation of extortion and sexual assault made against two Immigration officers working at Belize's western border with Guatemala.
Two women traveling together on November 16th, Honduran National Xenia Paz Bardalez and Mexican National Yolanda Pineda, accused two border officers of locking them up for 3 hours, sexually assaulting them while in custody, and then demanding 10 Thousand pesos for their release. The women's ordeal has been reported widely, both at home and abroad.
A formal complaint of the officers misconduct was made in writing and delivered to the office of the Director of Immigration, where an internal investigation was set in motion.
Today, Belize's Deputy Director of Immigration, Maria Marin told Seven News that while she couldn't go into the specifics of the investigation, her department is looking into the matter vigorously. Marin said that officers who are accused of misconduct are given a copy of the complaint and are expected to formally respond within a certain time frame, along with any supporting documents or evidence. One issue that might compound the expeditious resolution to this incident might have to do with logistics. Both women are already back in their respective countries, and this might complicate the departments effort to interview them. Marin says she has requested an interview with the women both orally and in writing, through their emissary Dr. Carlos Barrachina who we interviewed last night. However, Barrachina told Seven News by e-mail today, that while he doesn't believe it's necessary for the women to return to Belize, that decision is entirely up to them. He concludes that the statement of complaint signed by both women should be sufficient for the department to conduct a proper investigation. But, Marin says without the opportunity to personally interview them, the case against the two officers might lack teeth.
And so as the investigation continues, the officers under investigation continue their border duties. Marin says only at the conclusion of their investigation can any disciplinary action be taken. We will continue to follow the story. Channel 7