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Justice for Laddie - Lest We Forget

laddie gillette lest we forget
Last Updated: October 15, 2021

It is said that time heals all things.

That may be true for physical injuries, but for hearts gravely wounded by sudden loss of a loved one, the pain seems never ending.

For family members and close friends, every day brings reminders that the one you love is no longer there. That voice and laugh you’ll never hear again, the empty places around the house, the player missing from your team…

We’ve written before how the embrace of the community helped Laddie's family and friends get through the shock and anguish of those early days. We’ve tried to express what that support meant, and continues to mean.

It’s been the sharing of the pain, not the passing of time, that is helping everyone heal.

It also shows how much Laddie’s murder affected our entire community, and how his killing will become a national disgrace if justice does not prevail. Individuals and organisations from the US and Canada, Australia to Belgium have sent condolences and continue to ask us for updates. We once wrote that “it takes a village.”

Now it’s clear that Laddie’s killing takes in the world.

People the world over now know that a good, innocent boy, full of hope and the promise of a bright future, was killed with a shot in the back by a Belizean police corporal.

They also know, and we’ll keep reminding everyone, that while Laddie is gone forever, his murderer is free to enjoy his life.

Not far down the coast from that lovely Placencia beach where he shot and killed Laddie, Police Corporal Kareem Martinez is enjoying life in a picturesque seaside village with his family and friends. No one is missing the Corporal, choking back tears at the thought of his brutal murder, or explaining to little brothers why he’s not there to play with them.

Corporal Martinez must feel relieved. So far, he’s literally gotten away with murder.

And if he continues to escape the justice he deserves, it will leave a deep, long lasting stain on Belize.

What will it say to our young people that the so-called authorities empowered to protect us can kill with impunity? Imagine growing up in a society where the sight of a uniform, badge and gun sends a chill down your spine?

We’ve expressed our sincere belief that the majority of police officers are decent, hardworking professionals doing a difficult job.

But as surely as one bad apple can spoil the whole bunch, a bad police officer is a rot that can discredit the entire department. If he’s not quickly removed, and allowed to continue harming the relationship between the police and the communities they serve, the damage can be catastrophic.

If, however, the perpetrator is brought to justice, fairly tried and made to answer for his crime, faith in the police department and justice system can not only be restored, but be strengthened.

This is why it is so vitally important that we continue, loudly and passionately, to demand swift Justice for Laddie.

For Corporal Martinez and his defence team, time is on their side. The more time passes, the better for them. This is common practice in legal defence - create as much distance as possible between the crime and the trial. Let public outrage and demands for justice cool off. Over time, things get hazy. People forget.

It’s a very effective strategy.

And one that we, as a society that relies on law and order to succeed, as a nation that depends on our global reputation to prosper, cannot afford to succeed.

We’ll keep sending these reminders, and ask you to keep doing your part.  Keep saying his name – Laddie Gillett! Wear his tee shirts. Keep organising candlelight villages in front of police stations across Belize.

And students, continue to get involved. You represent the future of Belize, just as Laddie did. Never forget that when Corporal Martinez murdered Laddie, it could have been any one of you - a carefree student sitting on a beach with friends during school holidays, that he killed.

We pray that, with time, this pain and anguish will begin to lessen. But as long as Corporal Martinez escapes justice there can be no healing. Not for Laddie’s family and friends, not for Belize.

It’s up to each and every one of us.

Justice for Laddie!