The daughter-in-law of a billionaire Tory peer has been detained for questioning in Belize after a senior police officer was fatally shot in the head, according to police.
Jasmine Hartin, who is married to Lord Michael Ashcroft’s son, Andrew, was taken into custody in San Pedro in connection with the death of Henry Jemmott on Friday.
The superintendent was found dead in the waters close to a pier where the pair are thought to have been socialising in the early hours of Friday morning, when a coronavirus curfew was in effect, Commissioner Chester Williams said.
After a single gunshot was reported, police found Ms Hartin on the pier with what appeared to be blood on her arms and clothes, Commissioner Williams was quoted as saying by local broadcaster Channel 5 news.
Mr Jemmoth’s body was recovered from waters nearby with a gunshot wound behind his right ear, he said.
“It seems rather personal and not an attack on law enforcement,” Commissioner Williams told a press conference. “From what we know, they [Mr Jemmott and Ms Hartin] are friends. From what we have been made to understand, they were drinking. From [our] investigation, they were alone on the pier and fully clothed.”
The commissioner said that when Ms Hartin was detained “she was not cooperating” because she requested to have her attorney present in order for her to talk, which he claimed “raises some red flags” despite it being her right under the Belizean Constitution.
“The situation is such that it does require an explanation from her,” Commissioner Williams said.
The pier is adjacent to the newly opened Alaia Belize resort, where Ms Hartin is director of lifestyle and experience, according to her LinkedIn profile.
An entry on the Marriott resort’s website, which had been deleted as of Saturday morning, described its developer Andrew Ashcroft as a Belize citizen with links to the country going back “generations”.
“Along with her husband, Andrew Ashcroft, Jasmine has played an integral role in shaping the vision for Alaia Belize from the very beginning,” it said. “Her passion for Belize and her appreciation for the local nature and culture have been guiding forces as she has collaborated with the entire development team.”
Mr Jemmott had been transferred to Belize City in May to command a precinct and had recently requested time off to deal with personal issues, police said.
“My brother loved life, he loved life,” his sister Marie Jemmott Tzul told local media. “He had passion for his work. He did his work with integrity and that’s the way he loved his family as well.”
According to a report by 7 News, Lord Ashcroft’s “dealings have largely shaped Belize’s post-independence history”. The Caribbean nation achieved independence from British in 1981.
Lord Ashcroft – a leading Tory donor – was implicated in the Paradise Papers leak, which the BBC and others reported showed he received payments of around $200m (£150m) from his offshore trust in Bermuda during the decade up to 2010.
Lord Ashcroft infamously sparked allegations over David Cameron’s supposed participation in an initiation ritual involving a pig with his biography of the former prime minister, and has penned a new unofficial biography of Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer.
Commissioner Williams was keen on Saturday to emphasise the independence of his investigation.
“I can emphatically state that I have not received any call or calls from anybody above me, directing that we deal with the matter in one way or the other,” he said.
“As the commissioner it is my duty to brief the prime minister and to brief my minister. I briefed both of them this morning on the matter and both of them said that we must investigate the matter and the chips may fall where they may.”
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