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#500615 - 02/03/15 09:58 AM Honduras Ambassador Discontent on Burial
Marty Offline

Honduras Ambassador To Belize Discontent About Silvia Del Carmen's Burial

Her Excellency Sandra Rosales-Abella, Ambassador of the Republic of Honduras, was in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize on Thursday, January 29, 2015, to attend an emergency meeting with the Honduran community of the island after learning about the improper burial procedures taken on the body of murdered Honduran national Silvia del Carmen Benitez.

Twelve days after Benitez was murdered and buried three and a half miles north of San Pedro, her body was exhumed upon the requests of the Honduran community of Ambergris Caye after they contacted the Honduran Embassy.

At the meeting held at the Lion’s Den with concerned members of the Honduran community and invited friends, Ambassador Rosales-Abella expressed her utmost discontent at the way authorities of the island handled the murder investigations and burial of the body of Silva Benitez. According to her, it is the responsibility, by law, of the local authorities (police and Town Council) to report any death of a Honduran national to her Embassy. In fact, she clearly stated that, any death of a foreign resident on the island should be reported to the respective embassy and/or consul.

Benitez’s body was exhumed during the early morning hours of Friday, January 30, 2015, and was given a proper burial at the cemetery located at the south end of the island. For context, Silvia Carmen Benitez was reported missing since January 13 and her lifeless, partially nude body was found on January 17th in an uninhabited area, about 3 ½ miles north of San Pedro Town. According to the police, she had injuries to the neck and face, but that the cause of death was undetermined. So far, there have been no arrests; she was mother to three children.

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San Pedro Town Council clarifies statements by Honduran Ambassador

Clarification on statements made against the SPTC and Mayor by Ambassador of the Republic of Honduras

It has come to the attention of the San Pedro Town Council that allegations were made against the council, the Mayor of San Pedro Town, Mr. Daniel Guerrero, the Minister of Tourism, Civil Aviation and Culture, Hon Manuel Heredia Jr. and other authorities on Ambergris Caye. These allegations are related to the death and the immediate burial of Honduran national Silvia Benitez earlier in January. The misinformation was stated first at a forum held on January 29th, 2015 at the Lion’s Den and then on The Reef Radio Morning Show by Her Excellency Sandra Rosalez Abella, Ambassador of the Republic of Honduras. On both occasions, Ambassador Abella was flanked by the People’s United Party Mayoral Candidate Giovanni Solorzano and other key members of the PUP.

The Ambassador expressed that the SPTC and Mayor Guerrero, following the discovery of the decomposed body of Benitez, rendered no support to have the body decently buried. In addition, the diplomat stated that the SPTC and the Mayor allowed for the immediate burial of Benitez without notifying the Honduran Embassy. She further explained, that the Mayor of San Pedro Town refused to meet with her to facilitate the exhumation of Benitez for a proper burial. Given the circumstances, the SPTC would like to take this opportunity to clarify some misinformation, misleading and false statements made on both forums.

First, The SPTC would like to state that throughout the entire process on the day that Benitez was discovered, all help was rendered to the relevant authorities upon their request. The SPTC is not the maximum authority in these circumstances and as such, its involvement was limited, as is the case with any murder investigation. Any murder investigation is carried out strictly by the Police and other relevant authorities. However, the SPTC assisted upon the request of the Belizean authorities. While it is not morally right to disclose the level of help rendered, under these circumstances and given the statements made by the Ambassador, the council would like to inform that all machinery and equipments of the council was placed at the disposal of the police and forensic doctors. In addition, the SPTC paid in full for all food and accommodation of the forensic team and that of the Crime Scenes personnel brought in from Belize City, to ensure that Benitez body was treated with respect. We also indicated that the SPTC stood ready to assist in whichever way our resources could allow.

Secondly, The SPTC would like to state that while we were ready to assist in the case of Benitez, the rightful authorities that were in charge were the Forensic Department and the Belize Police Department. In addition, there are established diplomatic protocols that are in place between the Government of Belize and the Republic of Honduras, as to how communication is to officially be passed on. The SPTC has no authority and cannot act outside of these established diplomatic protocols. It was the duty of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Belize to have communicated the circumstances surrounding the Benitez case to the Honduran Government. Her Excellency Abella, as a career diplomat, knows these procedures all too well.

Thirdly, the Honduran Ambassador stated that Mayor Guerrero refused to meet with her in an effort to assist in the exhumation of Benitez. For the record, there was never direct communication between the Ambassador and the Mayor. On January 29th, a secretary of the Honduran Embassy requested a meeting with the Mayor for 10AM on January 30th. Because the Mayor had other prior commitments of similar importance, he indicated that it would difficult at that time. Having knowledge of her presence on the island, the Mayor suggested that they meet that very evening but that offer was turned down by Ambassador Abella. At that time, the Honduran Embassy had already secured all the necessary documents and approval from the relevant authorities for the exhumation process. It was through an unofficial government source, that The SPTC learnt that the Honduran Embassy contracted the services of a medical doctor to oversee the exhumation process along with other authorities. At no time, did the Honduran Embassy ever communicate verbally or written about their plans to exhume the body. Similarly, at no time did the Honduran Embassy request for our assistance in the exhumation process. Should they have requested assistance through the proper process, the SPTC would have gladly helped as it has always done so, with the guidance of the Ministry of Health.

The SPTC would like to once more state that it sympathizes with the Benitez family and the Honduran community in this very traumatizing and difficult time. We continue to hope that those responsible for such gruesome murder are brought to justice. However, it is very sad that the memory and the incident surrounding Benitez’s demise are being exploited by a few irresponsible and heartless political individuals. In so doing, they have cast blame on several entities including the SPTC, which clearly has no jurisdiction over these police and foreign affairs matters.

Finally, the SPTC wishes to state that it is taking the statements made by the Honduran diplomat very seriously including other political remarks. The SPTC, through the relevant authorities, will register its protests to the Government of Honduras in regards to the misconstrued and offensive remarks made by Her Excellency Abella.

The SPTC has an open door policy of assisting everyone regardless of their race, nationality, religion, political party, sex or belief.


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#500635 - 02/03/15 04:08 PM Re: Honduras Ambassador Discontent on Burial [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline
San Pedro Town Council vs Honduran Ambassador

The San Pedro Town Council, on Friday, January 30, issued a release condemning allegations made by the Honduran Ambassador, Her Excellency Sandra Rosales-Abella, that a Honduran national, Sylvia Benitez, a single mother of three whose body was discovered about 15 feet off the Mata Grande Road, 3½ miles north of San Pedro Town, had not been “decently” buried.

On January 17, after San Pedro police reported that they found Benitez’s partially nude and decomposing body, police coroner Dr. Mario Estradabran and his team from the police’s forensic unit conducted a post-mortem exam at the scene of the discovery of the corpse, and found that the body had bruises to the face, neck and back, and that there were multiple blunt force injuries to the right side of Benitez’s face, as well as to her neck and back, and injuries to her shoulders and inner thigh that seemed to have been caused by restraint by force.

The cause of Benitez’s death, however, could not be determined, and the body reportedly was buried at the site.

Benitez had been missing since Monday, January 12, after she left her place of work and a report to police was that she probably had been intoxicated at the time. Police suspect that Benitez had been murdered elsewhere and her body disposed of in the uninhabited area.

The San Pedro Town Council, which won elections on a UDP slate, contends that the Honduran Ambassador, concerning the burial, made “misleading and false statements” against the Council, the Mayor of San Pedro Town, Daniel Guerrero, the Minister of Tourism, Civil Aviation and Culture, Hon. Manuel Heredia, Jr. and other authorities on Ambergris Caye, first at a forum held on January 29 at the Lion’s Den and then on The Reef Radio Morning Show.

Not only that, the release said, but on both occasions Ambassador Abella had been flanked by the People’s United Party mayoral candidate Giovanni Solorzano and other key members of the PUP.

In fact, the matter so incensed the Council that in its release, it mentioned that it was “taking the statements made by the Honduran diplomat very seriously, including other political remarks” and that the Council, through relevant authorities, “will register its protest to the Government of Honduras in regards to the misconstrued and offensive remarks made by Her Excellency Abella.”

Two weeks after Benitez’s corpse was buried in the Grand Belizean Estate area, the body was exhumed on Friday morning and taken to the San Pedro Town Cemetery, where Benitez was finally laid to rest in a proper burial by her family and friends.

The order to exhume and relocate the body to the cemetery was given by Her Excellency Abella during a meeting held on Thursday in San Pedro.

Ambassador Abella reportedly said that the Council rendered no support to have the body decently buried and in addition, the diplomat stated that the Council and the Mayor allowed the immediate burial of Benitez without notifying the Honduran Embassy.

She further complained, in the release, that the Mayor of San Pedro Town refused to meet with her to facilitate the exhumation of Benitez for a proper burial.

In rebuffing the allegation made by the Honduran Ambassador, the release said that there was never direct communication between the Ambassador and the Mayor, and that on January 29 it was a secretary of the Honduran Embassy who had requested a meeting with the Mayor.

The San Pedro Town Council declared that throughout the entire process from the day that Benitez was discovered, all help was rendered to the relevant authorities upon their request, but that its involvement was limited because any murder investigation is carried out strictly by the police and other relevant institutions, although the Council was there to offer any assistance at the request of Belizean authorities.

In addition, the release said, the Council paid in full for all food and accommodations of the forensic team and that of the scenes of crime personnel brought in from Belize City, to ensure that Benitez’s body was treated with respect.

The Council also stated that it has no authority and cannot act outside of the established diplomatic protocols between Honduras and Belize, and that it was the duty of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Belize to have communicated the death of Benitez to the Honduran Government.

Her Excellency Abella, as a career diplomat, “knows these procedures all too well,” said the Council.

Amandala

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#500715 - 02/05/15 10:14 AM Re: Honduras Ambassador Discontent on Burial [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Who dropped the ball in the burial of Silvia Benitez?

At a public meeting held on Thursday January 29th at the San Pedro Lions Club and on a local morning show the day after, the Ambassador explained that authorities failed to inform the Honduran Embassy about their national’s death. “We found out on the newscast the following day that one of our nationals who was missing was found murdered and that in fact was buried on the spot. The Mayor, the San Pedro Town Council, the Minister (Manuel Heredia) who was present and the police did not call us,” said Abella. The Ambassador said that under a chartered agreement between the two countries, anything that is of importance and involving their nationals, must be communicated and treated with urgency by the relevant authorities.

“First of all we were not even informed that a Honduran was missing in Belize. Having found the body and having identified the body as the missing Honduran, their obligation and responsibility was to communicate such incident to the embassy or consulate immediately. That was not followed,” said Ambassador Abella. While Abella blamed Mayor Guerrero, the SPTC and Minister Heredia, she did agree that the flow of information should have started with the police, based on standard procedures.

The Honduran diplomat said that the authorities had no right to bury Benitez without the approval of her embassy. “The Mayor, the council, the Minister, the Police acted without our knowledge. They are all part of the act of burying my fellow national. We condemn their actions because this female has a family back in Honduras. We understand that the body was decomposed but the only person to take a decision to bury her is me,” explained Abella. She added that the Honduran Government had instructed their embassy to have Benitez’s body exhumed and given a Christian burial.

“The Mayor has refused to meet with me and has also refused to help us in the exhumation of Benitez. We got the support from Dr. Giovanni Solorzano, the Honduran community, [and] the Ministry of Health, but the Mayor has just plainly refused to assist us,” explained Abella. She added, “I asked the Mayor to please have the same people who buried Benitez help with the exhumation and he categorically said no.”

In a press release from the SPTC, the council said that the information outlined by the Honduran Ambassador was not correct and opted to clarify some of the “misinformation, misleading and false statements” that Abella claimed. According to the council’s press release, “The SPTC is not the maximum authority in these circumstances and as such, its involvement was limited, as is the case with any murder investigation. Any murder investigation is carried out strictly by the Police and other relevant authorities. However, the SPTC assisted upon the request of the Belizean authorities.” The release outlined the level of help the council provided on the day Benitez was found dead.

Click here to read the rest of the article and see more photos in the San Pedro Sun


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