The Belize Riot Squat, members of the Belize Coast Guard and additional police support from San Pedro had to be deployed to the island of Caye Caulker late Monday evening, June 8, 2015, as a mob of angry residents set to riot after the death of a 17-year old male in police custody.
It is being reported that islanders believe that members of the Caye Caulker Police brutalized Hilberto Sotz while in their custody after he was caught red handed breaking into a residence. Sotz was allegedly severely beaten by police officers and died while being treated at the island clinic.
Hilberto Sotz (Deceased)
Manuel Guerra was also arrested by Caye Caulker Police
The Caye Caulker Chronicle reports that several youths living on the island of Caye Caulker were accused of burglary and theft and taken into custody by police, and within hours one of them was dead. The site also reported that there had been a string of burglaries on the island lately with several homes being broken into and items stolen.
The Caye Caulker Chronicle also mentioned that its sources on the island say the deceased, Gilbert Sotz, was detained early in the evening as he disembarked from a water taxi. He was taken to the station by police where he was allegedly beaten while police demanded him to tell them where the stolen items were. When he refused to talk, a plastic bag was allegedly placed over his head. When it was not removed in time, he suffocated. But reports coming in from the Belize Police Department are that Sotz started complaining of chest pain while in detention and that was when he was rushed to the poly clinic for medical treatment.
Outraged by the actions of the island’s police officers, calling out police brutality, the villagers started to protest outside the clinic where Sotz was treated. The Caye Caulker Police Station was also in lockdown as furious residents started throwing bottles and acid bombs at the building, according to eyewitness reports. It was reported that the CC Police fired several warning shots towards the direction of the mobbing crowd in an attempt to disperse it.
Island residents report of businesses closing down and sending their employees home early so that they could reach their homes safe. Anybody out on the streets was being considered a rioter.
More on this incident at information becomes available.