Earlier this week we reported on a rare Inferior Court Appeal to be heard today Friday by Chief Justice Kenneth Benjamin. That appeal is being brought by Geovannie Brackett, president of Citizens Organized for Liberty through Action (COLA) and advisor Nedal ‘Jihad’ McLaren, against Cayo Northeast area representative and former Minister of State for Immigration and Nationality Elvin Penner. This goes back to the case against Penner in the Kim Won Hong Passport scandal that was dropped in court in June of last year. COLA representatives and their attorneys appeared before the court today but the matter was not heard. COLA attorney Kareem Musa explains.
Kareem Musa, Attorney for COLA
"The appeal before the Honorable Chief Justice from the court's decision of the learned magistrate Ms. Aretha Ford - today was the first hearing of that appeal. As you know this matter concluded at the magistrate's court level in last year and in August of last year, we had filed our notice of appeal. We filed a ground s of appeal and we are now in a position to proceed with that appeal. We have filed our skeleton arguments as well. This morning we were notified that Mr. Penner had a change of an attorney. As you would recall at the magistrate's courts level he was represented by Mr. Ellis Arnold. This morning, we were notified that Ms. Trecia Pitts Anderson would be going on record and in that regard she requested an adjournment, because she was only retained I believe Wednesday of this week, so she will be needing a little time to prepare her arguments for a full hearing."
The hearing was adjourned for 27th February. It is important to note though that the defendant, Elvin Penner was not present for today’s session. COLA President Giovanni Brackett and attorney Musa commented on that fact.
Kareem Musa, Attorney for COLA
"Well, Mr. Penner is no different from any ordinary Belizean`. He is a defendant in a criminal trial, properly brought by Mr. `Brackett and Mr. McLaren, so, he is not exempt from appearing before the Supreme Court and I believe the judge was right in pointing that out to the attorney for MR. Penner that it is absolutely necessary for him to be here this is a case that involves him as the defendant so he has to be here.”
Geovannie Brackett, President – COLA
"What I found strange with the absence with Mr. Penner is, if you were to change an attorney, I was asking my attorney, who gives that instruction, because even if I was to change attorney right now, I believe I would have to instruct Mr. Kareem who would be the next attorney. So, for that to be an excuse not for him to be here today, kind of have me a bit bewildered. I think it's unacceptable to use the word of the Chief Justice and so he shouldn't be treated any different but we have agreed and we are going to be here on the twenty-seventh of the month, but we are hoping for the Belizean people to get justice, and this is the first time we’ve had an admission by a member of parliament who has committed himself, hence the reason he has run from the media consistently, and so we’re hoping that we will be able to get the Commissioner to admit his evidence.”
We will continue monitoring the progress of this case in court.
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