AARON HUMES Reporting: A meeting between the attorneys for the group COLA and the Director of Public Prosecutions was held today, and as was expected, the DPP will join Citizens Organized for Liberty through Action in their private prosecution of the Honorable the member for Cayo Northeast Mr. Elvin Penner.
COLA is mounting the private prosecution of Penner, alleging that the two-term area representative and former Junior Minister broke the law when he facilitated the issuance of a Belize passport to South Korean national Wong Hong Kim who was in a prison in Taiwan at the time the document was issued in Belmopan.
While the logistics of the DPP joining COLA in the private prosecution is news, the bombshell that emerged from today’s meeting is that the government of Belize has launched an appeal of the Writ of Mandamus given by the Chief Justice against Commissioner of Police Allen Whylie.
The Writ of Mandamus essentially is an order to Whylie to investigate Penner for the alleged wrong doings, with the subsequent result being that if he is found liable, he would then be charged criminally.
The news of the government’s appeal of the Writ of Mandamus ruling has been described as “unbelievable that this will take place,” by Kareem Musa, the attorney representing COLA.
Attorney Musa was informed of the GOB appeal by the lawyer representing the Honorable the Leader of the Opposition, Senior Counsel Edwin Flowers.
Both Musa and Flowers work with the Musa and Balderamos Law Firm.
The impact of the appeal on the COLA case which commences on Thursday morning in Belmopan is significant, because to date, Commissioner Whylie has not responded to COLA’s request for disclosure of the results of his investigation of Penner, as ordered by the Writ of Mandamus.
Neither has the Auditor General responded to the request for information, stating that the Auditor General’s office will only respond based on advice from the Solicitor General.
Today’s developments, according to COLA’s President Giovanni Brackett, cause him to believe that the Belize Police Department has no intentions of investigating Mr. Penner for alleged wrong doings.
The COLA firebrand goes on to say that his organization and supporters are prepared to sleep in front of the Honorable the Prime Minister’s house and in front of the Commissioner of Police’s office until justice is served in this case.
In related news, the Honorable the Minister of Immigration and Nationality, Senator Godwin Hulse, this afternoon told reporters that the police’s investigation of the passport scandal is right now centered around the issue of how files, including the Won Hong Kim file, left the confines of the Immigration office in Belmopan and subsequently ended up in the hands of attorney at law Arthur Saldivar.
Of note is that Minister Hulse confirmed this afternoon that the Wong Hong Kim file is still missing.
After the conclusion of the investigation of how the files were taken out of the Immigration Office, Minister Hulse says the probe will widen.
Minister Hulse says the government of Prime Minister Dean Barrow should get credit for immediately dealing with the manner when it was uncovered by removing Penner from Cabinet and distancing themselves from him in the House of Representatives.
Hulse says that if any criminal charges are brought against anyone in connection with the passport scandal, he stands committed to his stated position that he will not shield anyone.
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