Will Eric Chang and Patrick Tillett Defy Senate Committee?
As we have reported, former deputy Mayor of Belize City Eric Chang and financial controller with the Belize City Council, Patrick Tillett, declined an invitation to appear before the Senate Special Select Committee. But with all the times their names have been called in recent weeks, the Committee has seen fit to summon them for testimony next Wednesday, March eighth. But will they come? If they do not, said chair Aldo Salazar to reporters in a post-hearing conference, there are other options, though none that would justify forceful compelling of their appearance such as attempting to prevent their leaving the country. In the end, he said, their own conscience will make the difference.
Aldo Salazar, Chair, Senate Special Select Committee
“I have had no indication as to whether they will show up or not; if there is a refusal to show up, then the Committee will have to take a decision as to what to do next; but I don’t have any indication at this point on whether they will show up or not next week.”
“The Committee has not received a formal response from either?”
“No, and we don’t expect to get – if we get a response, it would perhaps be that giving us a reason for them not to show up – but I can’t speculate; I haven’t heard anything, and I haven’t been anticipating receiving a response from them.”
“So the Senators would be prepared for there to be a delay next week in the event that other measures have to be taken – let’s say if they have to be sent for?”
“No; if for any reason they don’t show up next week, we will proceed with other witnesses, and at that point we will decide what we will do next.”
“Can the Senate actually look at withholding their passports or that sort of thing, if it is the view of the Committee that they are deliberately avoiding appearing before the Committee?”
“I don’t think the Senate can withhold their passports. I don’t know if Mister Chang travels frequently – I have no idea. But if somebody refuses to show up, then the Senate has other avenues within which it believes it can compel persons to show up; if the person is not in the jurisdiction then that is another matter. As I’ve said before, I’m not going to make it my personal crusade to force anybody to show up. If somebody is wilfully evading and manages to slip out of the jurisdiction, I won’t see that as hampering our ability to conduct our investigation properly. I think that for my part, if you heard the testimony today, I would think that somebody who is being called so often would want to come and want to speak to us and the things that have been said; but I don’t take the issue personally – I’m not really as concerned with it. My duty is to do the job – we issued the summons; if you don’t show up on the summons then we have another step to take. I am not going to anticipate whether somebody is going to show up or not show up or try to slip out of the country; as I see it, that is not my concern.”
Chairman Salazar says he is aware that the summons have been delivered. The other witnesses to be called on March eighth are Immigration officer Lindsay Wade and the Department’s information technology official, Diego Bol.