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#510865 - 01/20/16 05:13 AM The Dark Night Double Standard?
Marty Offline
Last week we told you about the case of Bradley Paumen who is being accused of hiring a hit on his neighbor Michael Modiri and three other persons. Investigations suggest that the alleged hit was motivated by a long-standing land dispute between the two. Modiri owns a piece of land that Paumen uses to access the Dark Night caves.

But while the land dispute and the murder plot is one thing, the dispute in the tourism industry is quite another. That's because Dark Knight started the year without a valid tour operator's license, cease and desist orders were issued on January 8th and 15th, yet Dark Night just kept on operating. Today with cruise ships in harbor and hundreds of guests at Nohoch Che'en, Dark Night was fully operational, business as usual - but the local operators say it's never business as usual for Bradley Paumen - who consistently gets preferential treatment from NICH:..

Tour operators crowd the exit of the cruise terminals here at the tourism village fishing for the day's catch. When they get a bight they reel them in to places like this, the Nohoch Che'en Caves Branch Archeological Reserve. Laughing, and playing with these visitors are all in a day's work for these local tour guides. It is one of the biggest industries for foreign exchange but what happens when foreigners are the same ones that are taking over the industry? It is a reality that is frightening for most of these local tour operators who are out financed and outsourced by these big foreign investors. To add insult to injury there is a particular prejudice against them say the local tour operators.

Yohnny Rosado - Cavetubing.com
"After the last was open, we quit fighting on the media, because we saw the red had of NICH. BTB and the government getting involved. How can you fight the people who licensed you? My tour operator license is licensed by BTB. I go to the park, according to NICH and these are the people who we are fighting. We are fighting CHUKKA, when we are fighting Dark Knight. We are fighting our own institutions - our own government."

Last week Bradley Paumen, the owner of one of the biggest tour companies in the country Dark Night Cave Adventures was hauled into the public eye when he was arrested and charged for allegedly hiring a hit on his former business partner Michael Mudiri. Today Paumen is out on bail and while just last week Friday BTB told us Paumen's tour company is in noncompliance with their regulations for failure to renew their license, today at Dark Night's its business as usual.

Yohnny Rosado - Cavetubing.com
"I got, I think was pulled to the curve by an allegation that I was fighting Vitalino and the BTB took me to the board. In fact they took my license for a day - they suspended me. A whole bunch of thing, because I am a short Belizean man. But when you are tall, white and powerful, nothing stops you. Its embarrassing to know that Dark Knight is operating today. I know they employ Belizean people. I know they have Belizean workers, Belizean waitress, Belizean tour guides - Belizeans... but actually when the owner is held like in my case BTB dragged me immediately. They stop me here and they took me to the board almost instantly. I am not seeing that done with Mr. Paumen and like I said we knew the story, but we didn't want to get into it because it was very nasty. There were two America citizens and why would a Belizean want to get into an elephants' fight. So we knew and we didn't knew that it was going to get so nasty - trying to kill each other. But we knew it was a nasty fight."

Tom Greenwood - President, FECTAB
"The opinion maybe wrong, maybe right. We got to look at all angles of our people in the streets and I was right there with them this morning and the day before and we will be there again - if that it were a local person, they probably still be festering in Hattieville jail. That is the opinion of our people on the ground. But when they saw the vehicles, the busses from Dark Knight showing up at Terminal one, there was a little bit of a hullaballoo as Belize Tourism Board personnel and Tourism Police staff immediately brought everything to a halt, because they wanted to know what was happening. The word was that there were not operating, so the police and the BTB people on the ground had to react very quickly and they were very professional about it - extremely professional and eventually the matter was cleared up."

"FECTAB certainly think that there should be suspensions of activities right here at the beginning and we feel that being the sentiment of some officials as well. We've got to get something cracking. The concept too often is seen on the ground, that if you are a local you get hammered and if you are a foreigner you get kiss on the cheek and forgiven or allowed to continue. That has to stop."

Since the start of January authorities at NICH and BTB have started implementing more stringent regulations on tours where mostly local tour guides operate. The same cannot be said however for tours operating at Dark Night and the other private foreign owned tour companies.

Yohnny Rosado - Cavetubing.com
"Dark Knight is one of the worst things BTB and NICH and this government have allowed in this country. Because Dark Knight, they have no regulations, no 48 inches, no 8-1 - nothing. You go to our caves, if there are children that book with us, if they are 40 inches below or half inch, they embarrass us. They made look like we are illegal tour operators "these guys brought you here, they knew better" and they embarrass us. The whole crew at NICH treats us like some type of dogs, some type of fake tour operators and we have the same tour operator license that Mr. Paumen have. We have the same tour operator license that CHUKKA have."

David Almendarez - Fantasea Belize
"It's ironic that the guy who wins all the awards, the guy who is labeled the "good guy" who is a Drank Knight guy, is the guy in court right now trying to fight an alleged murder hot case. They view us at FECTAB as being criminals. They view us as being barbarians. We are the guys who are the persona none grata, but look at the people being hauled in front of court? And what's ironic again, just like the other white guy who got money and got bailed, who had millions of dollars, probably more than this guy and fled. They are saying we could release Mr. Paumen because he has enough assets to tie him to Belize. So you could release him to go back and do whatever craziness he's up to again. We have always seen how dark this knight is. But we have a tendency, because you are rich, we will take care of you. But you all locals who are making money who were born here and deserve to reap the blessings of our country we don't deserve it. We must shut up and go work for Mr. Dark Knight."

Yohnny Rosado - Cavetubing.com
"We are not asking to treat us like Paumen you know. We are not asking them to treat us like CHUKKA, just treat everybody fair. When they bring in the hammer, bring it on everyone local tour operator, except Ian Anderson, except CHUKKA, except Mr. Paumen. What is going on in our country?"

Reporting for 7 news Emanuel Pech

In response to our many queries to the Belize Tourism Board about the compliance or noncompliance of Dark Night's Cave Adventures, the BTB issued this statement, quote, "On Tuesday, January 19th, 2016, the company fulfilled all licensing criteria. A receipt was provided to them as proof of the completion of the application process. This is exactly the same procedure that is followed with all Tour Operators that have applied for renewal."

BTB added that because they continued to operate without a valid license, Dark Night will still be brought before the Tour Operators Committee for review of their license status, disciplinary actions and fines. Nothing was mentioned about the "Abetment to Murder" case hanging over the head of Dark Night's owner Bradley Paumen.

And tonight, two of his employees are in jail under that same accusation. Over the weekend Ian Skeen and mechanic Linzburn Anderson were picked up by police. The men are accused of delivering money to the hit-man to hire him to kill Modiri and another. Investigators say that Ian Skeen solicited the hit-man on Paumen's behalf. They were both charged with with two counts of "Abetment to Murder." Skeen and Anderson are expected to apply for Supreme Court bail hearing on Friday.

Channel 7

#510901 - 01/21/16 04:49 AM Re: The Dark Night Double Standard? [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Chukka Says No Preference A La Dark Night

Yesterday we told you about the tremors in the tourism industry that have local tour operators upset. The allegation is that foreign tour companies regularly receive preferential treatment from the authorities governing the tourism industry. The report focused on Dark Night’s Cave Adventures owned by American businessman Bradly Paumen, but during one of the interviews Yohnny Rosado named a couple other foreign tour companies who he claimed are also getting preferential treatment including CHUKKA. In the case of Paumen, public records show a consistent pattern of preference for Dark Night, from the state acquiring land for his company’s private use, to allowing him to operate his tours without a valid license for the first 18 days of this year. But CHUKKA says that the allegation that they get this type of preferential treatment also is a blatant lie. Here’s how Valerie Woods put it:

Valerie Woods - Country Manager, CHUKKA Belize

"We must comply with the same regulations that FECTAB and all other operators operating out of Nohoch Cheen reserve which is the matter at hand, we must comply with it. Our buses are checked at the village, our buses are checked at the boot. The tourism police officers go on our property that we lease and check us there too. NICH personnel have checked up there too and that is the statement of fact that is what I'm clarifying."

Emanuel Pech

"This checking of authorities coming in and assuring everything is in accordance with regulations. It is your opinion that is has to be done across the board. Do you feel it's being done across the board?"

Valerie Woods - Country Manager, CHUKKA Belize

"No I don't think it’s being done across the board and in that I am in agreement with the operators who operate at Nohoch Cheen reserve. That has not been done across the board, there has been many instances where I have voiced. I don't go on the radio, I don't go to your news office but there has been many instances where we say; you have the regulation, it is public record, not by the way this year but several years ago that one must wear a life vest, that one must wear a helmet, that there is this restriction on age or height or on increased height level. Those weren't being complied with many operators at Nohoch Cheen. We sited it, we voiced it, nothing happened."

Woods directed those last statements in reference to inequality within the same Nohoch Che’en reserve. But as of the start of this year, she says NICH finally started to enforce safety regulations that had been on the books for some time now. Now, as for the matter concerning Dark Night she would not comment however she agrees with FECTAB that authorities are not enforcing the same regulations outside of Nohoch Che’en where private access to caves is concerned. Here’s how she put it:

Valerie Woods - Country Manager, CHUKKA Belize

"The statement of other companies operating where there is cave tubing being conducted, primarily for the cruise tourism. It is not a public park, you're absolutely correct in your suggestion that they may not be getting checked and we have raised that because all you ask for is a level playing field. When it comes to our regulating agency all you can ask for is that they apply the same rules to all operators, more importantly when you're dealing in the same sector. And in that regard, we are in agreement; all operators who operate out of Nohoch Cheen reserve are in agreement that it should be applied across the board. But we have voiced, we have voiced to Belize Tourism Board, we have voiced to NICH that it is unfair that some operators are being checked and others aren't."

Emauel Pech

"What are the authorities saying, is something going to be done surely about it?"

Valerie Woods - Country Manager, CHUKKA Belize

"We don't really get any responses that corrective measures are being done."

CHUKKA is Jamaican owned company which employees over 150 Belizeans. We tried to reach authorities at NICH to have their input in this discussion but president Diane Haylock told us she was not available and the Minister of State in charge of Culture, Hon. Elodio Aragon is out of the country.

Channel 7

#511054 - 01/26/16 05:07 AM Re: The Dark Night Double Standard? [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline


Last week we spoke to a few local tour operators after Bradley Paumen, the owner of Dark Night's Cave Tubing Adventures was charged for abetment to murder.

They were outraged because - despite the very serious charges, and the fact that Dark Knight didn't have a valid license for the first 18 days of the year - Paumen's tour business continued to operate unhindered. The matter brought into sharper focus an issue of perceived prejudice in favor of Dark Night. Today FECTAB, the Federation of Cruise Tourism Associations, held a press conference at the Radisson, to make official their outright discontent.

Yohnny Rosado - Cavetubing.com
"So we are here at the point whereby other cave tubing companies they are doing tours as they please. They open a zip line inside the caves and we are regulated as local Belizeans. The company was named Jaguar Paw. The entrance fee was $2. They change from Jaguar Paw to Cave Branch. The entrance fee change to $5. Now they name it Nohoch Cheen. The entrance fee is $10. How does they pay? They don't have a booth, so they don't pay anything. If they are paying something, it secretly because we don't know."

David Almendarez - Fantasea Belize
"We are asking the government in respect to NICH to do a comprehensive review of everybody who was involved in this Dark Knight deal. We've seen the judgement. Go read the judgement for yourself Belize. Even the judge is appalled that NICH was involved in acquiring land that was supposed to be use for public use when only one tour operator is using it. How can they be involved? How come the Minister of Lands in an interview in the television has no idea that has never taken place? How did that get taken place? How did you get the land without the Minister of Lands knowing that you have the land? Its corruption and its stinks."

Tom Greenwood - President, FECTAB
"We are asking NICH to either get boots and police offices and wardens at Dark Knight, Jaguar Paw and at Anderson's Cave Tubing on the Hummingbird Highway or don't put in those regulations until you have the staff, because that is outright prejudice."

David Almendarez - Fantasea Belize
"It might seem simple, but it's a systematic way to streamline the Belizean. Every day in Belize it's becoming harder and harder to native Belizeans to make a little bit of money."

Tom Greenwood - President, FECTAB
"We believe that unless all these things happen, there is going to be trouble. That's for sure. We are going to do civil disobedience, we are going to jam up those roads to Altun Ha and Caves Branch with 100-150 vehicles. We are not going to burn anything, we are not going to destroy anything, we are not going to hurt anybody. We will broadcast to the nation and to the world by our actions that we have to be done with this nonsense of hammering away at Belizeans. This is what you do to Belizeans - you lift Belizeans. You may lift our foreign element as well. We welcome everybody. But what is good for the goose, must be good for the gander."

The other issue addressed at the conference had to do with the rumors that the Government is, at the very least, considering an Ashcroft Alliance investment into the Belize Port Project. This is after the negotiations went stale between the Government and the Fienstein Stake Bank project, which FECTAB was backing.

Tom Greenwood - President, FECTAB
"We called the government of Belize to think very carefully. Please of where this cruise is going to go. 1) We got to have docking within a year or two when Oasis class ships start coming in. So we need it. But you need to put it up in such a way that native Belizeans will enjoy a part of it. We no longer want to hear about crumbs. We want native Belizeans to be put in such a position that they can enjoy what is rightfully ours."

Yohnny Rosado - Cavetubing.com
"We are advocating for Stake Bank, because of a local Belizean investing in it. We were given a letter about 2 years ago about Stake Bank would have work - all the FECTAB members, all the tour guides out there will no longer be outside. They are going to be inside. And that was true. When they just brought FSTV, every Belizean was in there and now we are pushed outside. The port will be a port, but not with the wrong investors. Not with the investors that have ripped off this country."

Tom Greenwood - President, FECTAB
"Stake Bank 100% native own. Okay Stake Bank asking for a 25 years exclusivity. There is argument about whether that is true or not. Then there is the Port of Belize with the big name Ashcroft. Do you think Belizeans are going to profit? Come on. Let's wake up."

Present at the press conference were at least four other tour operators along with members of the media.

Channel 7

#511064 - 01/26/16 06:22 AM Re: The Dark Night Double Standard? [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

FECTAB Calls for Punishment in Paumen Affair

Bradley Paumen

Today, FECTAB called a press conference to air concerns which they are facing in the industry, and called on government to hear them and act on a number of issues. The umbrella organization has maintained a contentious relationship with large foreign companies Dark Night and Chukka, claiming that they have been given unfair advantages. The recent Bradley Paumen murder for hire scenario has provided more fuel for the fire because the American national was given bail of fifty thousand dollars for allegedly ordering hits on four persons. According to FECTAB’s David Almendarez, Paumen needs to face real justice, and so do all those persons in government departments that have facilitated Dark Night in Belize going so far as to acquire land owned by Michael Modiri.

David Almendarez

David Almendarez, Executive, FECTAB

“This is the height of the high season, yet we at FECTAB holding a press conference. It’s ironic that you have a press conference when it should be a time of making money because it is being harder and harder and harder for us to make that same money. What are we asking for? We are asking for government to step into NICH and do a comprehensive review of everybody who was involved in this Dark Night deal. We’ve seen the judgment. Go read the judgment for yourself Belize; even the judge is appalled that NICH was involved in acquiring land that was supposed to be used for public use when only one tour operator is using it. How can they be involved? How can the Minister of Lands when interviewed on the television has no idea that that had taken place? How did that get taken place? How did you get the land without the Minister of Land knowing that you have the land? It’s corruption and it stinks.  How can a tour operator who is alleged of murder and trying to hire a hit man; it’s ironic you label we at FECTAB as criminals. They label we as persona non grata; we are the ones that are not supposed to be in the industry, yet you are the one being hauled in front of court—you and your accomplices and your employees and the list goes on and on. And it is business as usual and the people at NICH had allowed that deal to go and it is still business as usual and our government who has just been elected come and sit down and say this is okay. Well I am saying it is not okay. Somebody has to be held accountable for such level of corruption. We hire you; we give you the mantle to be our leaders and you put people in high places to sell us out and we should say nothing about it. Well we are asking for this to be addressed. It’s a very serious allegation; it’s a very serious black eye for Belize. How can the people who allow this to happen still hold their offices; still go to their work from Monday to Friday to allow this to happen again? It’s like the NICH and the Bliss Institute and the B.T.B. and the Minister of Tourism and the government on a whole is waiting for the breeze to blow over.”

Channel 5

#511090 - 01/27/16 04:51 AM Re: The Dark Night Double Standard? [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

NICH’s Secret Dark Night Agreement Faces Harsh Scrutiny Of Daylight

For two weeks now we've been reporting on Bradley Paumen - he's the major tour operator implicated in a murder plot. The alleged hit he put on his neighbor Michael Modiri is based on a property dispute at Frank's Eddy. Paumen partnered with NICH to get use of the caves for his visitors - but he needed to cut across Modiri's land to get to the caves. And that's where the Minister of Natural Resources unlawfully acquired Modiri's land to give to Paumen. The court quashed that, but the trespass continued - making NICH - who is Paumen's partner - possibly complicit in that violation.

7News has obtained the agreement between NICH and Paumen and its shows that NICH is obliged to quote, "do anything necessary for the administration of these sites."

The agreement also shows that it is for three years, not 25 as some had been alleging.

NICH is contracted to get ten dollars per head for every visit to the site, and the agreement says, quote, "The Institute will have personnel at the site to ensure compliance." When we went to the Dark Night last week, we saw no NICH personnel supervising.

The agreement is signed by the Director of the Institute of Archeology John Morris and Bradley Paumen for Dark Night.

Channel 7

#511124 - 01/28/16 05:04 AM Re: The Dark Night Double Standard? [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

BTB And Bradley, A Special Arrangement?

Today the Belize Tourism Board invited the media to a long overdue press briefing. Over the past two weeks we have been reporting about the situation with major tour operator Bradley Paumen who has been hauled before the courts for allegedly plotting a murder hit on his neighbour in Frank’s Eddy. His situation was further compromised when it became known that Paumen’s tour company, Dark Night had been operating for almost three weeks in early January without a valid tour operator’s license. As had been previously reported, in December, Paumen was issued two notices informing him that his tour license was about to expire.

Then in January he was served with two other notices telling him to cease and desist. But he just kept on going. On the 19 th he fulfilled his requirements and his license was renewed. No harm no foul right? Well the local tour guides we had spoken to didn’t think so. So today we asked BTB's Director of Business Development- what’s with all the special treatment when dealing with Dark Night? Here is what he told us.

Javier Paredes - Director of Business Development, BTB

"Belize is a country based on the rule of law. There is due process, it's a police matter at this point in time, and it will come before the courts. We will be guided by that; that still remains to be settled and I assume that is a very lengthy process that will transpire there. For us when he comes before the committee all that will be heard at that point in time will be his illegal operation or his breaking of the law and any disciplinary actions, penalties, fines will be imposed as per the decision of the committee."

Paumen goes before the Tour Operator's Committee sometime in February. We are told that the penalties, if any, can range from anything to a slap on the wrist to the revocation of their license. And according to Javier Parades, the only issue the committee will take into account is the 18 days of unlicensed operations. Now there was another matter that further compromises the situation of Dark Night. The fact is, based on the judge’s 2015 ruling, Paumen’s tours trespass on the property of Michael Modiri. Modiri is suing him for trespass, but BTB turned a blind eye to the violation even though the judgement came down months ago. So how do they justify that?

Emanuel Pech

"Note that it was judgement that ruled that Mr. Paumen had trespassed on other property to get to the land. Was that even considered when he received his license? The judgement rule that he did trespass."

Javier Paredes - Director of Business Development, BTB

"Again that is a matter that; these issues will come before the committee. At a licensing in other words what we do is we divorce the issues. Licensing when you apply, if you apply for license you have to meet the criteria for a license. Once you meet those criteria and those requirements you are allowed to continue operating."


"So in this case the matter of road access was never something that was raised by the BTB as a question to having access to the land where he wanted to operate on?"

Javier Paredes - Director of Business Development, BTB

"When he came in to apply these issues were there, he had access. How that turned out later you mentioned that it was brought before the courts etc.; that is something current at that point in time, he had access to do his tours."

In the meantime BTB is allowing his tours to continue operating unhindered. His business clients however are not being so dismissive of recent court appearances. BTB confirmed that one cruise Line Royal Caribbean has temporarily suspended their agreement with Dark Night. Although they didn’t state a specific reason, the suspension came in the aftermath of Paumen’s arrest.

Are Tourism Regs Being Applied Across The Board?

While on the Topic of the Bradley Paumen situation we asked BTB about another matter, which the local tourism sector has been riled up about for quite some time. That has to do with the strict regulations that are being enforced on them but allegedly not on Dark Night and other foreign private tour operators. Director of Business Development Paredes, told us that he believes in applying regulations across the board. So why do all reports say they are not?

Javier Paredes - Director of Business Development, BTB

"We always believe that whatever standards are implemented should be across the board. There should be a level playing field in terms of standards and that's what we strive towards."

Emanuel Pech

"Are you there?"

Javier Paredes - Director of Business Development, BTB

"No we are moving in that direction. Actually we are still in the process of developing standards for the past 3 years we have been looking closely at hotel standards, that's been the past 3 years. I think in 2016 we're going to be able to pass some legislation in terms of hotel standards. This year 2016 we have earmarked to look at tour operators in terms of tour operators standards. It doesn't mean that we haven't been doing work. So we have been for example, looking at dive standards for example. We've been looking at high risk standards for rappelling and zip lining. We've been looking at standards for water sports like parasailing. Standards have been looked at in term of tour operations but in terms of holistically on an assessment of all tour operators where there are and how they interface with different standards; that is something that we have earmarked for this year."

We note that the regulations that FECTAB and other local tour operators have been fighting have been in place for some time now. But it is only this year that they started implementing them at Nohoch Che’en and other reserves.

Channel 7

Royal Caribbean Pulls Plug on Bradley Paumen’s Dark Night

Bradley Paumen

There is a major development today in respect of the allegation against investor Bradley Paumen, the owner of Dark Night, who is accused of ordering hits against four people. And even if it may seem coincidental, indications are that Royal Caribbean Cruise Line has pulled the plug on Dark Night Cave Tubing Tours. As we’ve reported, American tour operator Bradley Paumen is out on bail after being indicted on four counts stemming from an apparent plot to order the murder of four persons. Paumen was arraigned on January eighth for reportedly orchestrating a hit on Michael Modiri, his neighbor. One week later, two of his employees Ian Skeen and Linzburn Anderson, were also arraigned for their alleged involvement.  The alleged contract on Modiri’s life was the result of an ongoing land dispute involving access to the acreage occupied by Paumen’s tour company.  In the wake of his arraignment, the cruise line has suspended its agreement with Paumen’s company to bus cruise passengers to his Dark Night Caves.  This morning, during a press brief, representatives from the Belize Tourism Board spoke on the interruption of business and what it means for Dark Night.

Javier Paredes

Javier Paredes, Director of Business Development, B.T.B.

“One of the cruise lines, Royal Caribbean, did inform Mr. Paumen and he informed us, that is why we are able to comment, that they did suspend the agreement they had.  It wasn’t a cancellation, it was a suspension.  Last week, Mr. Paumen asked us to give him a letter, in other words, he had satisfied the licensing process and he wanted us to issue him a letter which we did that he had satisfied the licensing process and that letter he, I assume, forwarded it to the specific cruise line.  What will be the outcome of that, I’m not sure.  How will that affect in terms of jobs, employment, et cetera?  The cruise lines already have their number of passengers that have booked with them, all they will do is redistribute it amongst the other operators.”


“Did they state a reason why they suspended it in the first place?”

Javier Paredes

“They just said they were suspending it in an abundance of caution.  That was all.”


“[As a result of] the incident that occurred?”

Javier Paredes

“Well, they did not specifically mention the incident but it came on the heels of the incident so, without speculating, that’s all we can say.”

Channel 5

#511164 - 01/29/16 05:05 AM Re: The Dark Night Double Standard? [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

More Problems For Paumen

American tour operator Bradley Paumen was taken back to court today, this time in Belmopan Magistrate's court where he was charged for the perversion of justice and the conspiracy to pervert justice. Three persons were charged along with him. They are mechanic Lisburn Anderson, who was charged previously, and two new faces. They are businessman Jahan Abadi of Belmopan, and Korean American Hyang Choing Park. She is the former common law wife of Michael Modiri - and she is now accused of being part of the wider plot to set up her ex.

All four of them appeared in Belmopan Magistrate's Court today where Paumen and Anderson were charged for planting a .22 rifle and 150 live rounds in Michael Modiri's vehicle in April, 2015. Park was charged with enlisting policeman Solomon Mas in February of 2015 - who was allegedly hired as the hitman. Abadi is also accused of facilitating a key to get into Modiri's vehicle so the weapon could be planted. Court finished just an hour ago - and here's what the Paumen's attorney Hebert Panton:

Jules Vasquez
"You are appearing along with Mr. Lindo for Bradley Paumen. What is your view on the charges that were brought today?"

Herbert Panton, Attorney for Bradley Paumen
"Well first of all when you look at the real facts that are appended to the information and complaint laid against my client, it's a whole lot of conjecture - on such a date information was received, the police investigated, but there is no meat. There is nothing to explain how that information was received. Who investigated? Who were interviewed when investigated? So at the end of the day it's a whole pile of hogwash. The unfortunate thing and this is always the unfortunate thing is that the police plays like they are shooting dice with people's freedom. They have no regard to depriving people of their freedom. Because at the end of the day Mr. Paumen is going to walk away from these charges. They are ridiculous. But in the process, this is the second time now he has to be dragged off to prison as though he is a common criminal for charges that cannot stand the light of day. It is ridiculous."

Jules Vasquez
"Now, will he lose his bail? He is supreme court bail."

Herbert Panton, Attorney for Bradley Paumen
"That is the other nonsensical thing. His bail conditions clearly says if he is arrested for any other offence, he is to be immediately brought before a justice of the Supreme Court. The magistrate has remanded him until the 8th March. Nonsense! He should have from 9am this morning, that man should have never been taken in in front of a judge of the Supreme Court."

Mike Rudon, Ch5
"But wouldn't then, because of that same condition, wouldn't his bail would have revoke anyway?"

Herbert Panton, Attorney for Bradley Paumen
"It is at the discretion of the judge of the supreme court. It's not revoke automatically. And it would not have been revoked because these charges stem from the same set of facts. It's not two separate things. This stems from the same set of facts. So bail would not have been revoked."

Jules Vasquez
"Sir, the magistrate spoke a number of times about how the case is being conducted. His dissatisfaction about how the proceedings went this morning. How do you feel? Mrs. Montejo expressed her reservations?"

Herbert Panton, Attorney for Bradley Paumen
"Well I was not here this morning, so I can't speak of what transpired this morning. But the magistrate is perfectly right. It is the prosecution who brought these charges. As far as I understand, a plea was taken from Mr. Anderson, he pled not guilty. A submission was made, submission simple that the matter was out of time and so it ought to be dismissed and the magistrate recused herself. Now, that information is vital at the very least this afternoon when a new magistrate walked into the courtroom. It was the responsibility of the prosecution who brought the case to court in the first place, to say to the magistrate this is what transpired this morning and for a defense counsel to do that - because now, the magistrate would have to regard that information a suspect, because the defense counsel is acting in interest of her client. It was the responsibility of the prosecution to bring that information to the attention of the magistrate this afternoon."

Mike Rudon, Ch5
"Sir, you say the charges stem from the same set of circumstances, but aren't they different? One of them he is allegedly being accused of hiring a hitman for 4 persons. The other one he is accused of planting a firearm or conspiring to plant a firearm in a vehicle. Two separate circumstances."

Herbert Panton, Attorney for Bradley Paumen
"At the end of the day its one breed of dogs. No other way to describe it - one breed of dog. Whether it is conspiring to murder or conspiring to plant a firearm or whatever the case may be - they all stem from a single set of circumstances."

As you heard, there were all kinds of procedural difficulties and twists and turns in today's hearing - most significantly the changing of the magistrate. The hearing which was first scheduled for 9:00 am before magistrate Ladonna John ended up being heard by the san Ignacio Magistrate Hoare - who had to be brought in because she recused herself. He didn't start hearing the matter until after 4:00 and adjourned at 5:10 pm before everything could be settled. So, everyone was detained overnight - until the matter continues tomorrow. Paumen and his mechanic Lisburn Anderson left the court in handcuffs - and his bail could be revoked because a condition of his Supreme Court bail is that he face no additional charges. These are new charges so - he could have his bail forfeited.

Confusion with Charges For Paumen’s Mechanic

At the top of the news we told you about Bradley Paumen - the American tour operator who could get his bail revoked because he's facing new charges in connection with the Michael Modiri case. Paumen was charged earlier this month for abetment to murder for allegedly hiring a hit on Modiri - so he was on bail for that. But his mechanic Lisburn Anderson is charged along with him. Anderson is alleged to have conspired with Paumen to plant an unlicensed .22 rifle and 150 live rounds in Modiri's car - so that he would get stopped at a police checkpoint, and arrested for possession of an unlicensed firearm. That was in in April of 2015.

That is why today he was charged for the perversion of justice and conspiring to pervert justice. But the charge was read before one magistrate this afternoon where he pleaded not guilty - and that's when the Prosecutor indicated that he would like the matter tried on indictment. That's when things got topsy turvy and the matter ended up before another magistrate this afternoon - who read him the charges all over again. Here's how his attorney Rachel Montejo explained what she said is a fatal procedural error:..

Mike Rudon, Ch5
"You are representing Lisburn Anderson. Tell us where we are in terms of that case. We've been here all morning since 9am."

Rachel Montejo, Attorney for Lisburn Anderson
"I've just been retained early this morning. So I came in and I have been presented with two charges information and complaint. One is where he is charge for the perversion of the course of justice - alone and then he is jointly charge for conspiracy to pervert the course of justice along with Mr. Bradley Paumen. Now what is happening is that the one that he is charged alone, he was arraigned this morning and a plea was given and he pled not guilty. Now, the prosecutor got up and stated that this is an indictable matter, but the plea has already been taken. And I made my submission that it is out of time, contrary to sections 20 of the relevant section statute of limitation and the magistrate asked for a two minute adjournment - came back and recused herself. I ask my reasons and she did not provide any, but I am still waiting for that to be vetted out. So the current magistrate was about to rearranged this defendant a second time. I had asked in court whether the court book reflected the plea that had been taken. I mean there was a senior counsel inside the court and other media personalities was also present when his plea was taken. But it was not reflected on the court book as all heard in court today this evening. So there are questions to be answered and I am left with my hands up in the air as well. The matter has been adjourned for the 8th March and regarding a secondary issue, I have to present before the magistrate tomorrow at 10am in the San Ignacio court."

Jules Vasquez
"Your client is accused of planting a gun in Mr. Modiri's car. Did he do that?"

Rachel Montejo, Attorney for Lisburn Anderson
"No comments on that. I have not spoken to my client further than having this application for bail and hearing his plea. I was surprised that since he is on indictment, a plea should not be taken and a plea was taken this morning. It ought to have been recorded, because he stated so and I made a submission why it should then be treated as summary and to be thrown out. Because it is out of time. You understand. And the DPP has all rights to bring this matter, but a plea not ought to have been taken, but it was."

As we told you, the procedural mix up caused hours of delay in the case and the hearing didn't start until after 4:00. It finished at 5:10 before everything could be heard, and so all four accused were remanded into custody overnight. It resumes tomorrow in San Ignacio Court. There were no less than five attorneys present today: Dean Lindo and Herbert Panton for Bradley Paumen, Rachel Montejo for Lisburn Anderson, Kevin Arthurs and Steve Perrera for Hyang Chong Park and Jahan Abadi.

Channel 7

#511284 - 02/02/16 05:44 AM Re: The Dark Night Double Standard? [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

For the past 23 years, I have grown Ian Anderson's Caves Branch from a most rustic 'camping ground' to what it is today..

What is it today ?.. recognized as one of the "Top 10 Adventure Lodges in the World" and Number 8 in the "Top 100 Exotic Destinations in the World".

I have openly opposed to Cruise Tourism and have never competed in any way for the Cruise Tourism dollar. I have never competed with Tom Greenwood and member tour operators of FECTAB .. to date.

However, although I have always minded my own business and did my own thing on our own property, never, not ever competing with any other tour operator, Inland or Cruise, I have been continually abused by verbal lies both in print and on T.V. for over 20 years by Greenwood and FECTAB.

There has not been any responsible Belizean operated cruise ship tour operators in Belize for the last 20 years. One tour operator proudly displays on the back of each Van that his business with cruise ships is "Powered by Hate".. can you imagine advertising to international visitors that his business is powered by "hate" ..
But what does "Powered by Hate" really mean. I asked him one day. He said to me that the hatred and abuse he has had against him by by Greenwood and FECTAB members has given him the strength to fight hard to be successful while Greenwood and FECTAB has tried to destroy him.

In another case, members of one cruise ship tour operator literally beat to near death the son of the same tour operator recently .. so it seems the hatred displayed by Greenwood and FECTAB is alive, still against fellow tour operators, who ARE, incredibly, a Belizean born and licensed tour operator.

Greenwood and FECTAB need to learn a bit about the laws and the Constitution. In the eyes of "the law" and the "CONSTITUTION OF BELIZE" and in the eyes of God, there are no differences between born Belizean citizens or Naturalized Belizean citizens. People who have chosen to live in Belize for decades , like myself, and who have become residents, now Naturalized Citizens, have no less , nor more rights than those born in Belize.. we have THE EXACT SAME RIGHTS.

But still Greenwood and his minions at FECTAB continue to lie.. totally lie, condem, threaten and intimidate tour operators, both born Belizean or Naturalized Belizeans.. who might appear as a threat to their business'.

Greenwood and his minions constantly cry out on how difficult it is to earn a living in the cruise ship industry then go on to blame specific tour operators, myself.. Ian Anderson's Caves Branch and others who they claim are the reason why they can not make an honest living.

But lets look at how much the Cruise tour Operators are actually making.. IN 2014, 1.2 million cruise tourists landed in Belize. It is estimated that 72 % off all arrivals book a tour, either from the ships (FECTAB tour operators) themselves or directly through local ground tour operators. not associated with FECTAB. That number of cruise guests taking tours works out to be 864,000 cruise tourists participating on tours. The average price paid to tour operators is usd$55.00, totaling a minimum of USD$47,520,000. OR BZ$95,040,000 in 2014.. with an estimated 15 % increase in 2015.. and yet another 15% increase in 2016. This is estimated at BZ$125,690,400. .. thats rounded off to $126 million dollars in 2016.

That's an INCREDIBLE HUGE AMOUNT OF MONEY .. for a handfull of tour operators.. 126 MILLION DOLLARS.. shared between what .. 8-9 major tour operators.. perhaps averaging 10+ million dollars per tour operator of FECTAB.. TEN MILLION DOLLARS PER TOUR OPERATOR OF FECTAB .. INCLUDING TOM GREENWOOD..

Does that sound like "fighting for survival".. ?

In addition, BUT MORE IMPORTANTLY TO KNOW .. Greenwood originally held the 100 (approximate) acres now known as Jaguar Paw, and rather than having the insight and inteligence on realizing the value of the property .. or the Belizean Patrimony that he held.. he sold it ! That's right.. Tom sold out the Patrimonial Rights of ALL BELIZEANS .. sold it out for US DOLLARS. Every time Tom talks about Patrimonial Rights for all Belizeans.. remember he himself sold out those Patrimonial rights to the highest bidder and pocketed a lot of US DOLLARS from the deal.. selling Belizeans Parimonial Rights.. just for USD.

But still .. their abuse against overnight sector tour operators like Caves Branch Jungle Lodge and others.. still continues unabated, making many Belizeans think we are doing something wrong.. even though, even after being invited to say exactly what I am doing wrong,, all that is stated is hatred and maligning slander by Greenwood and FECTAB against me and others.

Ten million average per tour operator.. my goodness I had no idea.. but figures don't lie.

Enough is enough.. Greenwood and FECTAB.. I have said and done nothing against your abuse until now..

The NOTICE is to announce that I, Ian Anderson will join forces with three other 5 star inland tour operators to open a new Cruise ship Tour operation in Belize..

We will present to Miami our standards of operations which, can be documented as being already more that twice and thrice as strict as FECTAB.. we will point out that we have not drowned, or killed , or lost at sea any tourists, as some FECTAB members have; we will provide documentations that not only do we follow BTB / NICH guidelines but surpass those guidelines, unlike many FECTAB tour operators who have been documented in providing only one guide for as many as 45 tourists while deep inside dark caves; We will provide documentation that we voluntarily close our business' to flooding caves unlike FECTAB members who have repeatedly taking tourists into flooding caves, one incident causing he death of a mother on holidays with her family; We will provide our total documented investments in Belize for last three decades providing commitment to Miami that we certainly do know how to operate a most safe environment for their cruise guests, unlike many FECTAB tour operators.

In doing so , we feel that we can provide a much better cruise product for the country of Belize .. rather than run by operations with poor transportation and equipment .. we will provide the most highly trained guides and equipment necessary to turn Belize into a significant adventure port while protecting the integrity of Belize as an overnight destination.

We will not allow our independent guides drink alcohol and smoke weed during the work day as has been documented at Franks Eddy Parking lot.

We will compete DIRECTLY with Tom Greenwood and his FECTAB minions .. we will represent ourselves under a new NGO and bypass FECTAB all together.. I am sure that the BTB, BTIA , BHA as well as NICH will support our new initiative by such respected operators.

After 20 + years of listening to Greenwood and FECTAB attack me and my organization, as well as many others .. its time to provide EXELLENCE in Cruise industry .. rather than FECTAB mediocrity.

The game is afoot Greenwood..

#511319 - 02/03/16 09:37 AM Re: The Dark Night Double Standard? [Re: Marty]
Amanda Syme Offline
There is an incredible amount of animosity, resistance and racism aimed at naturalized Belizeans that is tolerated under duress by the victims. Although I do not know the finite details of the story above I do see similar instances played out regularly in other industries so it is not a stretch for me to believe that there is a basis of truth.

I am a great believer that it is our duty to rally against injustice and to assert our rights as citizens. And moreover I believe it is our duty and rights to strive for fairness and excellence in all industries. Together we can make this a great visitor destination.

It is unfortunate that rather than seeing everyone pulling together to uplift all businesses we tend to see the strong get stronger and the weak are downtrodden and broken.

I am not a big fan of the cruising industry but I accept that it is a part of progress and development that the GOB saw fit to support and therefore I would like to see it be a sustainable, profitable, successful industry that benefits our countrymen and generations of Belizeans to come.

Let us strive for success, for safety, for excellence in service and for the protection of the environment that also ensures a prosperous future for our kids and grandkids.

#511334 - 02/03/16 06:42 PM Re: The Dark Night Double Standard? [Re: Amanda Syme]
larrypied Offline
I totally agree. If you just make it eco-friendly, I see no problem with it. Use common sense. If not they will go somewhere else. The big loser will be Belize as a whole.

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