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Jul 24, 2014

Former Minister of State Elvin Penner Freed of Charges, COLA Will Appeal Decision

Elvin Penner

Elvin Penner walks….A decision was handed down today in the case of Elvin Penner, who facilitated the issuance of a passport to South Korean fugitive, Won Hong Kim. The former government minister admitted in an email that he, “Personally went with Kim to the passport office to see to it that he would get proper attention and would get his passport the same day.” But Kim was sitting in a Taiwanese jail. When all investigations went nowhere, a private prosecution started and on March twenty-seventh, Penner appeared in the Belmopan Magistrate’s Court for the first time; he was charged with two immigration offences. Today, almost four months later, he walked out of court with no case to answer, after the matter was struck out for lack of evidence. The outcome, even for those who brought the private prosecution against Penner, is not surprising. It was a struggle to get the matter to court, and once there it was an impossibility to obtain evidence held by government functionaries. But while Penner has been cleared in the court, it is no real vindication because in the court of public opinion he has been tried and convicted. Mike Rudon and Chelsea Wagner were in Belmopan this morning and have the story.

 

Mike Rudon, Reporting

At eight-forty this morning COLA representatives, along with attorney Kareem Musa, arrived at the Belmopan Magistrate’s Court, and shortly after, disgraced former Minister of State Elvin Penner, flanked by his wife and family members, arrived. Police presence at the court was unusually heavy – we counted seven officers stationed inside the courtroom, with the Commander of the Western Zone, Assistant Commissioner of Police Aaron Guzman taking charge outside.

 

The case hinged on evidence held by Commissioner of Police Allen Whylie, but the Magistrate dismissed an application by attorney Kareem Musa to summon him for access to that evidence, and as easy as that, the case was struck out and Penner walked out of court cleared of the charges.

 

His triumphant exit was marred by the presence of the media and an angry crowd which made its feelings known.

 

Kareem Musa

Kareem Musa, Attorney for Geovannie Brackett

“I don’t think that there is any clearer law that exists that shows that the Commissioner of Police ought to have been summoned to come to Court today. I know that the learned Magistrate has given a ruling. I must say right off the bat that I wholeheartedly disagree with her ruling. I believe the Magistrate said that we needed to summon the Commissioner…that is an entirely different section of the law. The particular application that we made is under Section thirty which states that if on the statement of the complainant it comes to light that there are individuals in possession of files and documents she the magistrate then has to exercise her discretion whether or not she wants that individual to come to court.”

 

The Magistrate disagreed, stating that summoning the Commissioner of Police is out of the jurisdiction of her court. She also stated that private prosecutions do not have rights of access to files held by the Police. That Penner file has been sought with as much passion as the Holy Grail, but with as little success.

 

Kareem Musa

Allen Whylie

“I think that the Commissioner has been taking advantage of the fact that the Supreme Court didn’t tell him conclude your investigation by July twenty-fourth. He is taking advantage of that. And I don’t think he is out there investigating anything. You’ve heard him taking statements from anybody recently? Absolutely not! So I think he is taking advantage of that fact. But certainly he does not have eternity. Eternity is not what he has to go and carry out the investigation. At some point he has to deliver up that case file, not necessarily to COLA, but to the D.P.P….to the lawful authority who can then bring a public prosecution against Mr. Penner under Section one seventy-eight of the Criminal Code. There’s no time constraints on that, so in fact the D.P.P. does still have a duty in this case.”

 

But that’s in the future, and for now there is a sense of disappointment in those who fought hard…and fought alone…but were beaten back at every turn.

 

Geovannie Brackett

Geovannie Brackett, President, COLA

“It is a sense of disappointment but I think what that really does here today…the decision and the whole scenario from start to finish…what I think it is, is a bigger discouragement to the people of Belize because we have seen how justice has been denied by every entity in coming here to try to get a fair trial against Mr. Penner.”

 

And out of the dark clouds there is a silver lining of appeal, and the team which lost today seems ready to go all the way to the Supreme Court.

 

Kareem Musa

“I believe that the appeal is in order based on the ruling that I heard today in court…an appeal is in order and certainly now that the appeal will be in the Supreme Court I think it is the perfect opportunity for us to explore our options under that very writ of mandamus to force the Commissioner now to conclude his investigation. He cannot go and give these excuses anymore that it is ongoing and ongoing…it’s nonsense and people are tired of hearing that.”

 

They have twenty-one days to file an appeal of the decision by the Magistrate today. Mike Rudon for News Five.

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14 Responses for “Former Minister of State Elvin Penner Freed of Charges, COLA Will Appeal Decision”

  1. Rod says:

    This judge should be locked up what corrupt people we have in this gov. But I blame you the belizeans people for being so dumb you have sit back and watched your children murdered you have sit back and watched your little daughters. Raped you have sit back and watched this man destroy this country steal your money you have sit back and watched while the police commit murder well you know what unu damm deserve it .

  2. Ali BaBarrow, sez it all says:

    Got that rigged UDP leather feel. Tally ho

  3. baby says:

    we already knew this was gonna happen.. look at it the guy that stole an Armour all got six years in jail.. and many others petty crimes people doing they get so mant time in jail and this damn minister walks free .. my dad got murdered couple years ago they had evidence all of a sudden they got lost the guys walked free i tell you free… but i know what happen that magistrate got her part of the share .. cause let me tell you one thing i know from here in belize ..and i quote”"” money talks bullshit walk “” so if you dont have money damn hell you gonna go to jail for quite some years ….

  4. truth says:

    He’s Free!!! jajajaja…ridiculous..this is absurd this man should be in jall!! I agree with “Rod” blame the people dem lef dem selves mek dis corruption walk over dem..they have no fire no spirit lef to say ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!! My advice to people dat want a better life for themselves n kids ..GET OUT OF BELIZE!!! THERES NO FUTURE IN THIS….IN THIS..THERES NO WORD TO DESCRIBE THIS PLACE!! get out as soon as u can run caz tings will only get worst!
    u tink barrow fool he mek sure dis fool no go da jail caz wen he go n get tired a de ina jail he wa spill out everything jus fu come out ,so to avoid that keep him a free man

  5. Tashybze says:

    Yes I agree. One or two person can’t do it alone damn we need all to stand together and make a change, but that will never happen cause most of the belizean people are close minded and just look out for today this second not about the further. That’s you see these folks begging for a dollar or two at the pup and the UDP office then get happy with that. The next day comes and they go do the same thing. Damn damn people thing about the long run not just the second. Fools fools fools now here we go another big head got off and the small heads will go to jail for this. And yet the belizean are sitting on their asses no better yet you all are standing in line begging for a dollar.

  6. belizean@heart says:

    AY-YAYAY..it was expected the same attorney general has been saying its a waste of time,so wat can we do or COLA? nothing ITS A WASTE OF TIME! no matta if COLA appeals the case they are loosing time and money, yes its very disappointing for all Belizeans that we were expecting justice,penner has escaped justice here but with the LORD..he will never run away and even all the money he stole will not free him from justice,one day he will pay with all those corrupt minister and PM,and the corrupt judges too..well because dean barrow controls the judiciary he appoints the judges and the appeals judge, and they have to recieve orders from corrupt dean barrow. so sad of the state of affairs and justice system of this country the UDP/dean barrow government has failed us…THE PEOPLE NEED TO WAKE UP AND ELECTION DAY KIK THE UDP OUT OF OFFICE.the people have the power.

  7. ratty says:

    You got that right, Rod. That was powerful

  8. H@tari says:

    The ComPol should be ashamed of himself. The politicians we all know will cover up for each other as they steal from us and abuse our trust. But the ComPol is a paid public servant that is entrusted with our safety and enforcement of the law. He has sold us out and now lost whatever public trust he may have had at one time. It is shameful and I hope he realizes what he has done. He like Penner should be shunned by all Belizeans. I will never speak to either again.

  9. belizean@heart says:

    The Truth from AMANDALA NEWS….The nature of Belize’s parliamentary democracy did not and does not allow for the UDP government to investigate itself without running the risk of losing power. They therefore decided to cover up the Penner passport scandal. Out of the Belizean citizenry, a group named COLA, which recently entered the ROC fold, took it upon themselves to bring Penner to justice. COLA, supported by ROC, has been assisted legally by an attorney who is the Caribbean Shores standard bearer for the Opposition PUP.

    If we understand the Attorney General correctly in his Wednesday interview with the press, he was giving the finger, as we would say, on behalf of the UDP Cabinet, to COLA and its attempted Penner prosecution. The thing is, the majority of the Belizean people know that COLA, whatever its shortcomings in substance or style, is right. The Government of Belize, our highest legislative body and supreme political authority, is wrong. Meanwhile, the academics of Belize are loud in their customary silence.
    So what does this mean in the streets? It means that the Government of Belize loses credibility in the streets. The situation presents opportunity for COLA, for ROC, for the PUP, or for whomever, to take the Penner case to the streets. There, the verdict has already been given, and it is guilty as charged! The history of this territory shows that it does not take a lot to spark action in the population center. Such action would encourage the government to show its thuggish side.

  10. belizean@heart says:

    truth………There is a structural fault in our system of governance which, in the first instance, does not allow the government to investigate itself, and in the second, does not have any real provision for a failed government to “wheel and come again,” or, put another way, seek a new mandate. The present government therefore feels bound to stonewall, to lie, and to “beat down” so that it can serve out its five-year term.

    It would be helpful, we submit, if the educated citizens of Belize, at home and abroad, would participate in the debate on the Penner matter. Intelligent debate would not necessarily contribute to any solution in the dispute between COLA and GoB. In fact, it almost surely would not so contribute. It would, however, change the flavor of the exchange. Intelligent debate would reduce the confrontational sparks in a dispute which can, by constitutional definition, lead nowhere.

  11. Uncle Benji says:

    You said it all Rod. There’s nothing else to add to this pathetic story.

  12. Concern says:

    Penner might have been freed by the government doing everything to corrupt the justice system, but we the people of BELIZE have not freed him of any charges! There is nothing for him to celebrate about, because he is guilty, guilty, guilty!!! No amount of blocking will save him when election is called, and government change!

  13. rudy says:

    RISE UP MY BELIZEAN PEOPLE AND FIGHT FOR YOUR RIGHTS

  14. Belizean says:

    Maybe this case needs an eye opener. I have one. Mr Barrow is using Mr Penner as a cover for a greater sin. People, does it not occur to you that the GOB wants you to think that Penner is the sole one responsible here? That is absolute BS!!!! Penner is the scape goat, the cover up, and it works darn well cuz he’s a Mennonite!!! I would call it taking advantage of someone with high integrity. So, lets get to the real bottom of this story. I honestly believe that COLA is going to the extreme, just biting around on Penner..I say they are serving Mr Barrows plans well!!

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