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Jun 26, 2014

Elvin Penner appears in court for private prosecution

Elvin Penner

Since last September, it came to light that there was gross corruption in the issuance of Belizean passports to person who clearly did not qualify. In the case of South Korean national, Won Hong Kim, there is evidence that he did not meet even the basic requirements, but obtained nationality and citizenship. The former minister of Immigration, Elvin Penner, recommended and facilitated the passport to Kim. All investigations were hampered, but a private prosecution by COLA is ongoing. Today, Penner was back in court in Belmopan for final disclosure of evidence by the plaintiffs in the matter. There was some disclosure, but the material evidence which COLA needs to pursue its case has been withheld. Still, they are pressing on, and hoping that government agencies and functionaries will see fit, or at least get instructions to hand over documents which are critical to the case against Penner. The disgraced area representative’s first appearance in court in March was a mini-political statement, with family and supporters flanking him. But today there was no fanfare. Mike Rudon was in Belmopan and has the story. 

 

Mike Rudon, Reporting

At exactly eight fifty-five, former minister of state and current defendant Elvin Penner arrived at the Belmopan Magistrate’s Court. There was no political entourage with him and no red shirts trying to protect him from the camera, as we’ve seen before. His stop before Magistrate Aretha Ford was brief, and in about twenty minutes he headed back down. He refused to offer comment. He has not done so since the scandal broke in mid-September. He has been ordered to return to Court on July twenty-fourth for the substantive hearing, a process which is dependent on certain evidence being sought by the private prosecution.

 

Geovannie Brackett

Geovannie Brackett, President, COLA

“We believe that this is historical. You all know in the media the challenges that COLA has had in the different authorities that are holding evidence, whether it is the passport that has yet to come into the country. The Commissioner of Police is refusing to give us what he has at this point…he is in possession of the case file. And so we are calling on those authorities to work with us, to do your job that you’re paid to do.”

 

Kareem Musa, Attorney for Geovannie Brackett

“There is certain evidence that is in the possession of certain individuals, and those individuals have been covering up this very heinous crime that has been committed against the country of Belize. So we have been unsuccessful in getting that evidence. I am speaking specifically about the Belizean passport issued to Won Hong Kim. I am speaking about the immigration file concerning Won Hong Kim which the Auditor-General’s report confirms was taken out of the Immigration Department by the said defendant, Elvin Penner. I am speaking also of the Commissioner’s investigative file. As you know a writ of mandamus was issued, was ordered against him by the Supreme Court and he has to this date not delivered that file over to COLA or to the D.P.P.”

 

Kareem Musa

But even in the absence of the passport, the immigration file and the Police file, Musa remains optimistic. Section Thirty of the Summary Jurisdiction Procedure Act gives the Magistrate the discretion to order individuals who are in possession of material evidence to deliver it to the court. Musa says they will be relying heavily on that section.

 

Kareem Musa

“Even though the Commissioner may not want to deliver up the file…even though the passport remains in Taiwan…even though Mr. Penner is in possession of the immigration file for Won Hong Kim…I remain optimistic because there are sections of the law that we can rely on to still try to get those documents before the court because that is material evidence. That amounts in my opinion to obstruction of justice, and that’s material evidence that we will still try to get before the court.”

 

Attorney for Elvin Penner, Ellis Arnold, has asked that July twenty-fourth be the final hearing on the matter. It has been a challenge for COLA to even get this far…and there is public speculation that the matter will be thrown out even as it gets underway.

 

Kareem Musa

“It didn’t get struck out as quickly or else it would have been struck out the same day. I think that COLA has done an amazing job and I keep applauding them because they have kept the fire burning in this very important national issue. To the critics that say that I say to them that we are trying our best. We are trying our best. We are trying our best in the circumstances, in the situation where there is a clear case of a cover-up, so I don’t think that the Belizean public will chastise COLA for this, you know. It’s not COLA that is covering up this very heinous crime, so I don’t it would ever fall back on COLA for that.”

 

Geovannie Brackett

“To be honest people would understand and see that COLA had the testicular fortitude to bring this forward.”

 

There are also plans to subpoena specific individuals who can provide evidence on the Won Hong Kim/Elvin Penner matter before the court. Mike Rudon for News Five.

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4 Responses for “Elvin Penner appears in court for private prosecution”

  1. Timber says:

    I have asked several times before, why hasn’t Penner and all involved not arrested and charged. That includes himself, Hulse , Commissioner of Police, Castro and those in the immigration office who got paid under this scheme. Does this go as high as the PM’s office? Also, the people who got passports and citizenship through fraud from this group who was arrested recently, why haven’t they been deported and their citizenship revoked? I’ve hinted before and this is so funny, the likes of Penner, Hulse and Castro and those involved might think they have gotten away with this in Belize but it has far-reaching effects. Uncle Sam is waiting because in the US this is a federal offense. When I blogged a few days ago and stated that Castro doesn’t know the repercussions of his actions and other acts where he signed bogus affidavits for people to get visas and come over here, he has a green card. Watch him get turned back and he and those in his family get their resident card revoked. Penner and Hulse, your travelling days to the US on visas are over!

  2. Louisville, Ky. says:

    Kareem Musa, lets get something straight. What Penner did was wrong, it is criminal and he must pay the price. But is it heinous? Webster’s dictionary define heinous as,” hateful or shockingly evil”. Is it only when Elvin does it, it is heinous? Would you use those same exact words if you were describing what happened with passports and nationality certificates under you Father’s administration? Would you be representing Cola if these same charges were brought against a PUP Minister?
    One gets the impression you are sensationalizing this case to further your political ambitions and personal aggrandizement.
    Yeah, Penner sold at least one passport that we know about, which makes him crooked, without a doubt. Heinous, I don’t think so.
    The Belizean people can see that you have an agenda , Kareem.

  3. curious says:

    Barrow and all his cronies seriously believe they are above the law. I guess that’s why he put all his relatives in strategic positions. Like a chess game. He probably plays chess well. Lets see how good Fonseca is in playing chess as well, or Can He …?

    COLA, YOU DID WHAT YOU CAN! CONGRATULATIONS TO YOU BECAUSE YOU REACHED THIS FAR. I PERSONALLY BELIEVE IT WON’T GO ANY FURTHER. “STALEMATE”. IT IS INTERESTING TO NOTE THOUGH, THAT THE OTHER UNIONS ARE SO QUIET! I REMEMBER THEM RILING UP BELIZE WHEN PUP WAS DOING WRONG. COULD IT BE……?

    I GUESS IT’S UP TO THE POPULACE TO THEN DECIDE ON THIS MATTER AND THE CURRENT HIGH HANDEDNESS OF BARROW AND HIS BUNCH … WHEN THE TIME COMES, AS IT IS NOT RECOMMENDED TO BE DESTROYING UP THE PLACE TO GET THEM OUT. BELIZE IS TOO SMALL FOR THAT AND IS JUST DEVELOPING. THERE IS NOT MUCH RESOURCES TO BE SPENDING IN REBUILDING.

    GOOD LUCK TO YOU COLA ON YOUR NEXT HEARING! YOU DID YOUR BEST! YOU MUST BE APPLAUDED AS YOU DIDN’T EVEN HAVE AN ATTORNEY IN THE FIRST INSTANCE! I GUESS THAT’S WHY BARROW SAID, “WISH THEM LUCK” HE PROBABLY KNEW FOREHAND WHAT WOULD HAVE BEEN DONE.

  4. Jane doe says:

    I’m curious, Louisville, Ky , is the ultimate resolve to your comment about Kareem Musa having an agenda be that Penner not be prosecuted by COLA? Does your hypothetical deduction of the circumstances and the intent of whosoever is involved amount to resolution in which penner is not tried in court? Remember now Kareem Musa isn’t the one bringing this case to the court it’s COLA and as far as the public can see they just want justice, which as you’ve admitted, needs to be served. No one else had the balls to do it. You certainly have not stepped up and tried elvin penner, so really what is the point you’re making with all this hypothetical talk about a political agenda. Whether he’s political or not, I’m glad these brave Belizeans are not letting barrow and his bastardly band of bandits Rob us blind. If the PUP go into power and do the same shit, I would love to see this some course of action be taken. When you fallacious it argue against their prosecution with the look whose talking, blame the motive falacies, your ignorance and lack of sound judgement shines through. If you were a good belizean you’d applaud these men not chastise them

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