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Oct 29, 2002

Castellanos will not be called by commission

Former director of immigration Paulino Castellanos will not testify. That’s the latest out of the Commission of Inquiry charged to review the procedural irregularities at the Immigration Department. According to Chairman Paul Rodriguez, the commission has decided it will not ask Castellanos to appear before them, because his testimony could possibly jeopardize the ongoing police investigation. The public officer was relieved of his responsibilities as Director of Immigration and Naturalization after initial investigations revealed his possible involvement in the illegal issuing of Belizean nationality and passports to unqualified applicants. Viewers will recall that when Colonel Peter Parchue, the current director of the department, gave his testimony, he was unable to speak to the procedures in place between January fifteenth and July thirty-first, when Castellanos was at the helm. Without Castellanos’ crucial testimony, it is uncertain how the commission will fulfil its mandate to recommend changes in the system to improve the department, when they are still in the dark as to how it was run. The commission continued its sessions this morning at the Central Bank after taking a field a trip to Belmopan on Monday to review the immigration documents held by police. Rodriguez says the files have confirmed some of their suspicions but as to what that means, your guess is as good as ours. Testifying today was the commission’s first en camera witness. The official from the U.S. embassy gave the details of an interview he conducted with a Taiwanese man who had a Belize passport and was applying for a visa to the states. The man later admitted to the officer he had never been to Belize before. The other witnesses were Enrique August from the N.G.O. Help for Progress and Chief Elections Officer, Myrtle Palacio. Palacio’s recommendations to the panel included educating immigration officers and justices of the peace as to the laws which govern them and the responsibilities of their jobs. The commission continues its hearings Friday in the lecture hall at the Central Bank. At that time, members of the public are invited to attend and voice their own recommendations.

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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