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May 27, 2014

Elvin Penner goes back to court this week, but where is the evidence

Disgraced former Minister of State Elvin Penner will be back in court on Thursday, the defendant in a private prosecution brought by COLA. But Penner’s appearance before Lady Justice may be short-lived. That’s because the efforts of COLA to secure evidence in government hands have been stonewalled at every turn – from the Attorney-General to the Commissioner of Police. In a letter to COLA on May twentieth, ComPol Allen Whylie denied that organization access to the Penner file. His rationale was that it could form part of a public prosecution allegedly to be brought against Penner. Strangely, any public prosecution would have to be brought by Director of Public Prosecutions Cheryl Lynn Vidal, who has reportedly asked the Police to hand over the file. It’s a curious mix of state-sanctioned dodge the ball and pass the buck. And according to attorney Kareem Musa, that’s not good news for them at this point in time.


Kareem Musa

Kareem Musa, Attorney for Private Prosecution

“About two weeks ago, the commissioner made certain comments on national TV; one that he does not watch the news, he is not engaged in what is taking place—even though it is an issue of national importance—and more importantly what he disclosed to the nation was that he did not know where the file was. I think that was really an unfortunate and reckless statement by him, the Commissioner of Police, to make such a statement. And so what has happened since then is that he sent a follow up letter, dated the twentieth of May, in which he acknowledges that one, he has the file and two, like the Auditor General before him and like the Ombudsman before him; he too will not be turning over that investigative file to COLA. Now, just as a reminder, the Director of Public Prosecution wrote to COLA, wrote to myself, and said very clearly that she has no problem whatsoever in us getting access to the file. What I interpret that to mean is that the D.P.P. does not intend to follow through with a public prosecution; the fact that she is saying go ahead, you can have access to the file, you can continue with your prosecution. So the statement now by the commissioner that the evidence may lead to a public prosecution, I find to be totally incongruous with what the D.P.P. herself is saying. So the commissioner, instead of giving in to her request, the D.P.P.’s request, to turn over the files to facilitate us, he is now saying no, no, no. There might be a public prosecution. But coming from the D.P.P., she is saying, turn over the file to COLA. So there are two conflicting statements there—one coming from the D.P.P. and one coming from the commissioner—it is clear to my mind that the commissioner was looking for an out. He was looking for another excuse because he cannot carry on with this nonchalant. He cannot carry on and say that the file has disappeared into thin air. So what he is doing, he is actually saying that I cannot give you the file because there might be a public prosecution and it may prejudice the trial of Mister Penner. Now what is greater prejudice than not giving us the file? So come Thursday, there might not even be a case.”


Musa has stated that he will ask for an adjournment on Thursday, with the hope that COLA can eventually get access to the evidence it has requested.

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 “Elvin Penner goes back to court this week, but where is the evidence”

  1. Lord LOL says:

    I hope Commissioner of Police goes to prison. He broke his oath. He betrayed the people.

  2. Joe Blank says:

    Can we put this b.s. process to sleep? What we really want from Mr. Musa is a firm commitment that with a change of government, criminal charges will be brought against Penner and all those who obstructed justice. This process should not be a showcase to promote one’s self or an organization like COLA. We expect real justice and we do not expect to get it from this administration. We need Musa and the PUP to go on record that this matter will be pursued in a criminal manner. We are fed up of politicians believing public shaming is the maximum penalty applicable to politicians under their law. This expectation is coming from your own voters. So, please be wise and take note!

  3. Patriot says:

    Excellent Idea, Joe Blank: “What we really want from the PUP (not Mr. Musa) is a firm commitment that with a change of government, criminal charges will be brought against Penner and all those who obstructed justice.”
    Let this be a strong political campaign platform for town boards & city council & general elections. I think Belizeans should hold the PUP responsible for these things happening. Their weak responses are contributing factors for the UDP to be disrespecting the unions and civil societies.

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