The fact that the case against former Minister of State Elvin Penner, for his alleged involvement in the Wong Hong Kim passport scandal, was dismissed yesterday at the Belmopan Magistrates Court due to lack of evidence, did not come as a surprise to Belizeans. COLA, the organization that took Penner to court, has 21 days to appeal the case that was struck out after four adjournments, and that is exactly what they intend to do.
The case against Penner began on March 27th after he was charged for two immigration offences. The case fell through since COLA could not get its hands on the investigative file basically stashed away by Commissioner of Police Allen Whylie, who COLA requested, be summoned to court so he could hand over the investigative file.
That application however, was denied by Magistrate Aretha Ford and the case was thrown out. As mentioned at the top of the story there are those who are not surprised with yesterday’s outcome, amongst them, is Leader of the Opposition Francis Fonseca.
Honorable Francis Fonseca- Leader of the Opposition
“We were very, very disappointed yesterday when the magistrate court in Belmopan set Mr. Penner free, the fact is that the UDP government from the very beginning of this matter covered up for Mr. Penner, the have obstructed for this investigation into this passport scandal and immigration scandal at every point of the way the UDP government has stood in the way of a fair, independent, impartial inquiry into this matter and they had made it very, very difficult in fact they made it impossible for anyone to get the evidence that is necessary to prosecute Mr. Penner, I think everyone in Belize feels very strongly that Mr. Penner is the person that is most directly responsible for the illegal sale of our passport and nationality and of course he has been implicated in the sale of a passport to a convicted individual Mr. Wong Hong Kim and Mr. Penner is yet to answer for those allegations, he is yet to answer for those actions and yesterday when he went free he still has not responded and the Belizean people has not gotten one single answer from Mr. Penner even though this matter is almost one year old and the UDP government has protected Mr. Penner and has stood in the way of an independent investigation so we are very, very disappointed, we share the anger, the disgust that many Belizeans have with the decision.”
According to Fonseca, the party supports COLA’s idea of appeal.
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