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Mar 13, 2015

Penner Walks after Appeal Dismissed

Elvin Penner

Former Minister of State Elvin Penner arrived in court with heavy police protection after being egged on his previous appearance in court.  Back in 2013, Penner was found to have facilitated the illegal issuance of a Belize passport to a Korean fugitive. When criminal proceedings did not go anywhere, a private prosecution was mounted by COLA. Their appeal concluded today in the courtroom of Chief Justice Kenneth Benjamin marking an end to a long legal process. But was Penner exonerated? Isani Cayetano reports.


Isani Cayetano, Reporting

Former Minister of State Elvin Penner, respondent in an extended legal battle with COLA, walked out of court at midday, his legal woes seemingly behind him.  Penner’s departure from the Supreme Court followed the dismissal of an appeal by Geovannie Brackett and Murphy McLaren in a private suit against him hard on the heels of a passport scandal in 2013.


Geovannie Brackett, President, COLA

“In my view, today what we’ve seen here [is], if you want to disguise an evidence or if you want to hide it from the courts just give it to the police.  That’s what it boils down to in my point of view.”


Flanked by uniformed police officers, evidently to avoid a repeat of being egged, Penner took no questions from the media.  Instead, the disgraced politician advanced toward a waiting vehicle where he was spirited away from the parking lot.  Chief Justice Kenneth Benjamin, despite a tardy start, set aside the case on the basis of insufficient evidence.


Kareem Musa

Kareem Musa, Attorney for COLA

“My interpretation is that yes he has dismissed the appeal.  Let us start there.  Fundamentally the appeal has been dismissed but he certainly agreed with us in many instances that the magistrate had erred in many respects.  In her decision she had erred in law but it was not so much so as to amount to an overturn of her decision.  So he had found that there was no evidence before the magistrate for her to have given a decision and that’s why he ruled today that he would not overturn that decision but in many respects she did in fact err.”


The discharge however, is not seen as a clear victory for Penner.  In spite of its detriment to COLA’s argument that the fallen Junior Minister of Immigration acted criminally during the infamous Wong Hong Kim passport deal, he is not vindicated.


Kareem Musa

“It did not exonerate Elvin Penner.  That did not happen.  All that the court was saying is that we were not able to produce evidence; we did not have legitimate rights to those, what in our view would be strong evidence or could be evidence.  We will never know what’s in that file it appears, as long as we have this DPP, as long as we have this commissioner and as long as we have this government.  We will never know if Elvin Penner would have been guilty or not.”


The question going forward is whether the Supreme Court decision will also be appealed.


Kareem Musa

“No we haven’t put much thought to that as yet.  We haven’t decided that.  Certainly our biggest concern and has always been [is] the involvement of all these functionaries of the government.  We’re talking about the ombudsman who has declined to assist us in any way under the freedom of information act.  We’re talking about the auditor general.  If you recall COLA had to get a leak of the auditor general’s report which was damning against this government, damning against Elvin Penner not in just one regard but in many regards.”


Geovannie Brackett

The judgment, for some, is undoubtedly disappointing.  For COLA it remains a valiant effort on the part of the citizenry.


Geovannie Brackett

“We have fought a good fight and COLA in no way feels let down, we’re not demoralized and we feel that we have done our job on behalf of the people of Belize to have tried, to have attempted to gain a victory here today.”


Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

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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3 Responses for “Penner Walks after Appeal Dismissed”

  1. Ali BaBarrow says:

    Ali and the forty thieves have been vindicated.

    A command performance by Hulse and Sedi.
    There is no lie too big to be hidden.

  2. Patriot says:

    PM Barrow is a hero for his crooked ministers have not been in acts of corruption, but in wrong doings, so they have won in Court. The Penner Gate is one of Barrow’s great accomplishments as a UDP gov’t.

  3. De says:

    Well Geovannie, valiant effort young man BRAVO! You are right, at least we are getting light shed on how the barrow administration does business. Keep knocking on the door, soon you all will break it down. Nothing last forever. You and I both know it is a uphill battle, when the DPP is nothing more that Dean Barrow’s puppy, put in that position to do exactly what he says and nothing more. She has no problem with that because she is solidifying her experience for when she goes home, you know, like Kirk Anderson did, even though he was a way better DPP. You know she is not Belizean and could careless about the Belizean people and their trials. You know from ever since she been here, she been sleeping with all the criminals and thugs she can wrap her legs around. What a waste of time.

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