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May 10, 2017

Penner Refuses to Discuss Appearance at Immigration Department with ‘Phantom’ Kim

And while that was Penner’s stance this morning, the Senate panel spent time on other matters before eventually returning to the Kim scandal in the afternoon session. What followed was a game of fencing between Penner and the Senators – the Senators probing for what they wanted, Penner doing his best to fend them off. More than once, Penner was forced to rely on his opening statement to avoid answering questions. For example, a question as simple as whether he was seen with Kim at the Immigration Department elicited a stonewall from the ex-Minister.

 

Aldo Salazar, Chair, Senate Special Select Committee

“The evidence adduced before us, is that someone posing as Won Hong Kim, or believed at the time to be Won Hong Kim in a black suit, visited the Immigration Department along with you. I believe it was Mister Phillips who said that last week or the week before. So he said that you accompanied the man in the black suit, and in fact you were the person who was primarily involved in having that application submitted to the Department. Is that the case?”

 

Elvin Penner

Elvin Penner, Former Minister of State, Immigration and Nationality

“I will exercise my privilege, that I do believe that I have to not answer that question.”

 

Aldo Salazar

“The privilege you are talking about is because any response could expose you to a criminal charge?”

 

Elvin Penner

“Let me read why…”

 

Aldo Salazar

“You refer to Section sixty-one; there is no specific wording in there, so I need to know on what basis you claim the privilege.”

 

Elvin Penner

“The part of the Belize Constitution that I am relying on not to answer that question is Chapter four, Section Five. “A person that shows that he has been tried by a competent court for a criminal offence, either convicted or acquitted, shall not again be tried for that offence or for any other criminal offence for which he could have been convicted at the trial of that offence; save upon the order of the Superior Court in the course of appeal or review proceedings related to the conviction or acquittal.” That’s one part of it…”

 

Aldo Salazar

“Let’s stop there. My asking you whether you accompanied somebody in a black suit has nothing to do with Section five of the Constitution, which allows you not to be tried for an offence again, which affirms what we have said, that once something has been dealt with it can’t be dealt with again, and therefore you are not exposed to any criminal liability. So please forgive me; I really don’t understand how you are invoking Section Five of the Constitution as a basis for not answering the question.”

 

Elvin Penner

“I’m just going to simply say again that I am taking my legal advice, and whenever question comes to Mr. Won Hong Kim, decide not to answer it, and then it will be up to the Senate Select Committee, on what actions you want to take based on that.”

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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