Prosecutors claim tycoon presents ‘serious flight risk’ in manslaughter case
In a short hearing on Wednesday, the country’s Supreme Court refused to grant her bail application until further evidence had been submitted by prosecutors.
She stands accused of manslaughter with negligence following the death of Police Superintendent Henry Jemmot on the night of the 28 May.
Belize’s Director of Public Prosecutions, Shanice Lovell, had submitted an objection to the court on the grounds that Ms Hartin presented a serious flight risk.
Judge Lord, who presided over the hearing, criticised the wave of rumours about the case currently spreading on social media, and asked that the Prosecutor’s office – who allegedly submitted a document simply reading ‘We object to bail on the basis of flight risk’ – to provide full submissions, including case law.
The judge has given Ms Lovell and her office until Friday to do so.
With the case now adjourned until next Wednesday (9 June), Ms Hartin will remain in the notorious Belize General Prison outside the town of Hattieville until further notice.
After the conclusion of the hearing – which lasted barely more than 5 minutes – Ms Lovell confirmed that she would be providing the information that Judge Lord had requested, asserting that the Officer of the Public Prosecutor believed that Ms Hartin presented a “serious flight risk”.
In response, Ms Hartin’s legal team – lead by former Belize Attorney General Godfrey Smith – were left unimpressed by the manner of the objections.
While Mr Smith would not comment on the nature of the allegations against his clients, he asserted the importance of the press in regulating the widespread allegations against Ms Hartin.
“You all will have heard Judge Lord express his disapproval in the in the publicity he has seen attending to this matter” he said, in a statement to the press on the courthouse steps.
“I have no intention of contributing to that. You will have heard what I have heard – which is that the matter is adjourned.”
It is expected that when the hearing finally takes place next week, Ms Hartin will make bail and be freed pending her trial for manslaughter with negligence.
The Belize Police Department believe that the incident was “personal” and “not an attack”, as Mr Jemmot and Ms Hartin were alleged to be close friends, although Ms Hartin was initially uncooperative with enquiries, and refused to speak without legal counsel.
Bail proceedings in Belize are often unusual – and in the case of murder trials, completely unavailable. Those on remand will instead await trial in prison while the case is investigated, often for several years while police deal with a backlog in cases.
Ms Hartin is the partner of Andrew Ashcroft, the son of Lord Ashcroft, who holds Belizean citizenship and was once its representative at the United Nations.