BELIZE CITY (AP) — The owner of a road-building company in Belize that has been blamed for the near destruction of one of the country's biggest Mayan pyramids said Thursday that the landowner gave permission to extract the material.
Businessman Denny Grijalva said the landowner had allowed excavations on his property for more than a decade.
In 1998, then businessmen Alfredo Martinez extracted stones from the same area also to build a road. Martinez is now Belize's ambassador in neighboring Guatemala.
Archeologists in Belize and around the world expressed outrage at the demolition of the Nohmul complex in northern Belize to extract crushed rock.
Nohmul sat in the middle of a privately owned sugar cane field, and lacked the even stone sides frequently seen in reconstructed or better-preserved pyramids.
The head of the Belize Institute of Archaeology, Jaime Awe, said the builders could not possibly have mistaken the pyramid mound, which is about 100 feet tall, for a natural hill because the ruins were well-known and the landscape there is naturally flat.