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Dec 13, 2004

Morgan arrested for Belmopan behaviour

Story PictureHe is a popular musician, poet and songwriter, but if Kenny Morgan has his way, Belizean History will remember him as the man who sparked a mass rejection of the PUP Government. Morgan managed to make the transition from artist to frontline activist by his actions in the gallery of the National Assembly on Friday. His repeated outbursts were as obnoxious as behaviour ever gets during a house meeting. But they probably would have been forgotten were it not for the reaction of authorities later that night. Patrick Jones reports, following a press conference held this afternoon in Belize City.

Patrick Jones, Reporting

That outburst from political activist Kenny Morgan in the House of Representatives on Friday, earned him, not only the speaker?s reprimand and expulsion, but a weekend trip to piss house. The forty-three year old entertainer was picked up on Friday night, and held in the detention cell at Eastern Division until Sunday afternoon when he was transported to Belmopan. In his own words here is how it went.

Kenneth Morgan, Political Activist

?I was taken into the possessions room, given back my property, put aboard the car and taken to the Belmopan police station where we arrived at about two forty Sunday afternoon. Again all my possessions were taken from me and I was placed in the Belmopan version of the piss house. Despite repeated attempts again by a person to secure bail for me, that was denied.?

But before Morgan was taken to Belmopan, the entertainer says that Commissioner of Police Carmen Zetina, through Opposition Leader Dean Barrow, sent him a message, which he says indicates that his arrest was politically motivated.

Kenny Morgan

?The message was that Mr. Zetina, being on his way to the wedding of one of Said Musa?s sons on Saturday wanted to know if Mr. Barrow could persuade me. Mr. Barrow would write the letter and I would sign it apologizing to the Speaker of the House, Ralph Fonseca and Said Musa for what I don?t know. Why would I apologize? They nuh apologize yet for all fuh we money weh they dash away, weh they thief and hide.?

Morgan says that when Barrow?s mediation failed, the Commissioner of Police himself entered the picture.

Kenny Morgan

?Mr. Zetina then made the offer to me personally under the guise that, dah nuh nothing really important. Dah just wah slight lee apology weh nuh really wah mean nothing and if you just sign that off then you could get released right away and we wah si bout drop the charges. Now here is a Commissioner of Police attempting to circumvent the legal process; the law of the land. Does he have the authority to do that? I think not.?

Rejecting the offer, Morgan was taken to Belmopan and held until Monday morning. When he appeared in court he was read the single charge of disorderly behaviour, given bail of eight hundred and fifty dollars plus a surety of the same amount and told to return to court on January eighth. But even before his appearance in the Belmopan Magistrate?s Court, Morgan says a last attempt was made to intimidate him, this time through one of the Assistant Commissioners of Police.

Kenny Morgan

?The letter states people and I would like to read this for you. (This office notes with concern your repeated inflammatory statements, suggestions and remarks on public radio and the streets regarding certain current issues with a view to insight unlawful, civil disobedience. Kindly be informed that to insight civil disorder is against the law and your continuing to do so will result in criminal prosecution before a court of law. Also be informed that your conduct in this regard, will be closely monitored by the Police Department.)

Now in other words they are telling me, from here on they will have tax payers money dih spend the pay police man fuh follow and monitor me. I who have never been arrested or charged for any criminal offence, prior to today, again I wah seh I could direct them to two big criminals who need police monitoring and supervision.?

Morgan maintains that he has done nothing wrong, and while the Commissioner of Police was trying to get an apology out of him, believes that the apology should be coming from the opposite direction.

Patrick Jones

?You said earlier that you don?t believe you violated the sanctity of the house with your outburst. How can you justifiably say that when it is the House of Representatives and like the speaker said people in the gallery, they are there by privilege??

Kenny Morgan

?People in the gallery are there by privilege is her statement. People who are elected in there are there at the behest of the people who voted for them. They should represent eh wishes of the people and when we see the leader of the nation, the Prime Minister on repeated occasion found to be lying to the people, that totally destroys whatever theory on the sanctity of the House that they might claim. They have already destroyed all that, we are only following. What makes it right when they do it and wrong when someone else who is trying to pursue the cause of equal rights and justice does it? It?s a double standard and we will not accept being judged by that.?

Patrick Jones

?Do you intend to apologize to the Speaker, to the House of Representatives??

Kenny Morgan

?As soon as the Prime Minister apologizes for the crimes he has brought against the people of Belize.?

For Barrow, there is no doubt that Morgan?s constitutional right was violated, and he and the UDP are throwing their full support behind him.

Dean Barrow, Leader of the Opposition

?I think that Mr. Morgan?s actions in the House in my view were justified. But even if they weren?t, the Speaker dealt with those actions by having him expelled. There was absolutely no need for the police to charge Mr. Morgan. If the police acting on the instruction of their bosses decided to charge as they did, then there was no need to arrest him. What they?ve charged him with is a petty offence. In the summary jurisdiction act, it?s listed under the heading petty offence. It carries a maximum penalty of a two hundred dollar fine. You do not arrest somebody for an offence like that. The fact they are saying it is disorderly behaviour, if it was that, then they ought to have arrested him on the spot. Having charged him, why on earth do you not give him bail? You do not, you do not deny somebody bail for a petty offence for almost seventy-two hours.?

Patrick Jones, for News 5.

Morgan is being represented by attorney Sharon Pitts Robateau, with assistance from a host of prominent UDP lawyers. Morgan said that his court papers indicate that he is to reappear before the Belmopan magistrate on January eighth, but pointed out that the eighth is a Saturday, when the courthouse is closed.

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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