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May 24, 2012

Habet vs. Penner; another election petition is struck out

Rodwell Williams

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court struck out a third election petition from the March seventh general elections. The Chief Justice Kenneth Benjamin found that there was no evidence against opposition leader Francis Fonseca for bribery. This afternoon, the court decided on the fourth, in which P.U.P. aspirant Orlando Habet was challenging Elvin Penner of the Cayo North Division. The petition was filed on April second and today, a decision by Justice Minnet Hafiz put an end to the back and forth by attorneys on both sides. Habet initially filed the petition on the grounds that Penner allegedly bribed voters and because he was denied a recount when he lost the division by a mere eleven votes. The bribery aspect was struck out on April tenth, while leave was granted to proceed on issue of a recount. But Habet’s attorneys, Said Musa and Anthony Sylvestre, went back to court seeking a stay, while they appealed to have the bribery petition re-instated. At that point, Penner’s Attorney Rodwell Williams submitted arguments that the recount petition should also be struck out since the documents presented for bribery were simply repackaged and brought back before court in that matter. Those documents, according Williams, were null and void. Justice Hafiz agreed and today struck out the Habet versus Penner election petition. Williams spoke to News Five about the decision.

 

Rodwell Williams, Attorney for Elvin Penner

“The judge gave a written decision in which she found that the petitioners did in fact cut and paste so the petition dated April second, 2012 that was presented was not a true petition for the reason that that petition was actually the very petition, in substance, that was struck out that very day and was represented with some cosmetic changes. She also found that Habet did not swear that petition. The judge therefore struck out the petition of Orlando Habet and awarded costs in the sum of ten thousand dollars to the respondents.”

 

Delahnie Bain

“So now the entire petition is off the table.”

 

Rodwell Williams

“The entire petition is struck out and the court determined that it has no power to enlarge time to get them to do what they ought to have done in compliance with the order granting leave for them to file a petition. So the matter is now dismissed, struck out and there is a liability to pay ten thousand dollars cost by Habet to the respondents.”

 

Delahnie Bain

“I know the law restricts the time that an election petition can be before the court, is there room for them to appeal?”

 

Rodwell Williams

“Well, this decision, like any decision of the court—final decision—can be appealed to the Court of Appeal, but an appeal per se is one thing, whether it has merit to appeal but that’s not an affair for me. But yes, it can be appealed up the Court of Appeal, but not beyond the Court of Appeal.”

 

Anthony Sylvestre

Any notion that the election petitions would have triggered a bi-election or a reversal of the March seventh results is now quickly dissipating. Attorney Anthony Sylvestre appeared on Habet’s behalf to receive the ruling. This is the third election petition brought by the P.U.P. that has been thrown out, but Sylvestre says the process has been good for the judicial system. As for a possible appeal, he says the next step has not yet been decided.

 

Anthony Sylvestre, Attorney for Orlando Habet

“We haven’t had an opportunity to read the decision but the judge in the summary indicated that the election petition is struck out so now it’s a matter of having to go through the judgment, look at the reasons given for the decision by the learned trial judge and thereafter consulting with our clients and see what will be the next step thereafter.”

 

Delahnie Bain

“Did any of the reasons that she read stand out to you that you might be able to challenge?”

 

Anthony Sylvestre

“Well, as I said she gave a summary of her decision, that’s a different thing from the reasons for those particular decision but as has been said in the other matters, the process that we’ve undertaken is one which is healthy for the judicial process, it allows for the development of the jurisprudence in Belize with regards to election petitions and particular with the bringing of election petitions and how we move thereafter with respect to it. So it has been a very useful and I think a very important process for the jurisprudence in Belize.”

 

The only remaining election petition is against Herman Longsworth, brought by David Craig in the Albert Division. The petition is in relation to a contract Longsworth has with the government for the construction of the perimeter fence at the Marion Jones Stadium.

 

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1 Response for “Habet vs. Penner; another election petition is struck out”

  1. lali says:

    what is the use of a and election for these two. this will not help solve crimes in our country….. we need cops who are willing to give their life for the security of our country not those who help in creating more crimes. we need brave policemen and police women……….. work for the benefit of all

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