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Court Says Government Owes ACES for Riot Damages to Property

The story made headlines across the country and even on CNN International – the burning down of the American Crocodile Education Sanctuary (ACES) by a mob of Toledo villagers who thought the couple running the place had abducted and killed a couple of local children who had gone missing. This week, two years after the incident, a court ruling has found that the government of Belize is liable for damages that arose from the incident.

Since the incident in September of 2010, Vince and Cherie Rose, of ACES, started a long process of filing criminal charges for the torching down of their home and business center. They moved to San Pedro where they continue their work with crocodile conservation.

After the mob of upset villagers destroyed their home and business, no one had been criminally charged. The American couple, throughout this time, maintained that the mob burned down their home and that the police let them. (Click here to read up on the incident)

The Roses got a lawyer and sued the government for permitting a riot to ensue which destroyed their property. Under the Riot Compensation Act, the government is responsible for damages that arise during a riot. Supreme Court by Justice Oswell Legall agreed with the Rose’s Attorney Agnes Segura – Gillett and found that the government is liable.

Agnes Segura stated to the Belize City media that the court handed down its decision that there was a finding of a riot on that September 5, 2010. The Roses now still have to prove their case with regards as to how much will be awarded to them. The three structures that were destroyed included the Rose’s home and two guest houses that were used for students who came to study about crocodiles. They also had all of their household possessions destroyed, including vehicles. They are seeking about $907,000Bze plus in compensation. That determination is yet to be made as to how much would be awarded. What has been determined already is that the Rose’s properties were destroyed as a result of a riotous assembly and that the government is responsible to pay compensation to the Rose’s.

According to Segura, “The whole reasoning behind the riots compensation act is that the state is deemed to be responsible to ensure that people’s properties are safe – that people lives are safe and there were rumors beforehand that the villagers intended to go to burn down the sanctuary to look for the children there.”

The police indicated that they did all they could to prevent the incident, but the Roses think otherwise. According to News7 of Belize City, a decision will be made in a month’s time as to whether the Government of Belize of the court should decide the amount the Roses should be awarded. No criminal charges have ever resulted from this case – and the Rash children’s disappearance is still unexplained.

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