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May 10, 2017

Elvin Penner Talks to Senate, But Not About Won Hong Kim

Elvin Penner

Appearing at today’s public hearing of the Senate Special Select Committee at the National Assembly in Belmopan was former Minister of State for Immigration and Nationality, Elvin Penner.  This is the first appearance of any Minister of Government, past or present, at the Committee since it opened its public hearings last November.  But more so than that, he has been reviled and scorned publicly ever since the details of his alleged misdeeds with regard to fugitive South Korean businessman Won Hong Kim became public, causing Prime Minister Dean Barrow to fire him in October of 2013.  However, citing the ventilation of two criminal charges at the Magistrate’s and in appeal at the Supreme Court in 2014 and 2015, Penner tried to claim legal protection from speaking up about his involvement, if any, in the scandal that brought him down. He told the panel that he was not to be forced to testify to something he considered a “closed chapter.”


Elvin Penner, Former Minister of State, Immigration and Nationality

“Section thirteen, sub-section one of the [Legislative Powers and Privileges] ordinances provides as follows: “Every person summoned to attend to give evidence, or to produce any book, paper, record or document before the Assembly or a committee, shall therefore be entitled, in respect to such evidence or the disclosure of any communication, or the production of any such book, paper, record or document, to the same right or privilege as before a court of law.” Having been duly acquitted by a competent court of Belize, the Won Hong Kim episode is to be regarded as a closed chapter – as all lawyers would say, res judicata, and I will not be responding to any questions relating to that issue, or to any related issue which could have been the subject of the criminal prosecution that concluded on the twenty-fourth of July, 2014. In this regard, I pray the protection of Section six, sub-section five of the Constitution of Belize. It has to be of some importance that under the Evidence Act, Chapter 95 of the Laws of Belize, there is no provision to compel a witness to answer questions related to his or her acquittal. There are provisions, however, that allows for the questioning of witnesses, in certain instances, to be questioned about a prior conviction – see Section fifty-eight, subsection (e), one, two and three. In addition, the privilege provided under Section sixty, subsection one of the Evidence Act, Chapter 95 of the Laws of Belize, will also be relied upon in regards to a certain portion of my testimony, if appropriate; this provides protection against self-incrimination.”

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1 Response for “Elvin Penner Talks to Senate, But Not About Won Hong Kim”

  1. Eye in the Sky says:

    Stay tough Elvin. Even though you are Belizean the racists are against you because your skin is white.
    You did nothing wrong and were a great minister of government.

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