Belizean cleared of piracy charges, another on the lam

Fernando Avila

In last week’s edition of the Guardian Newspaper, we reported that a group of Belizean men were busted in Puerto Cortez, Honduras with stolen boat engines and other items. The alleged pirates were handed over to the authorities in Belize but one of those men, Jeremy Leslie, has since been cleared of the piracy charges. This comes after there was no evidence linking him to the rest of the groups nor to the charges of piracy. Leslie was reportedly in another room at the hotel where the men were intercepted by Honduran authorities. He was admittedly charged with an immigration offense but was grouped with the pirates and charged jointly for those offenses and for handling a stolen boat engine. Neither of these charges stuck, however, after the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) reviewed the file. Since there was no evidence linking him to these crimes, he was released of the charges.
Fernando Avila, on the other hand, has evaded police after being charged in relation to this incident and being accused of robbing fishermen of their property in Belizean waters. He was one of the six Belizeans busted in Honduras and after being handed over to law enforcement in Belize, was being held in Dangriga. It is from the holding station in that municipality that he managed to escape and has been on the run since. As a result, the Belize Police Department has issued a bulletin for his arrest.