Politics — 07 March 2014 — by Rowland A. Parks

The Opposition is demanding an update on criminal investigation of Hon. Penner in passport scandal

Attorney Edwin Flowers, S.C., the lead attorney for Opposition Leader Francis Fonseca, who steered a judicial review through the Supreme Court, resulting in the court’s granting of a writ of mandamus directed to Commissioner of Police Allen Whylie to “continue, accelerate and conclude criminal investigations against Elvin Penner and others for their role in the illegal issuance of a Belize passport and nationality certificate”, has written to the Commissioner requesting an update on the investigation by 2:00 p.m. tomorrow, Friday, March 7.

Flowers’ letter, dated today, March 6, reminds Commissioner Whylie that: “Of course you are also aware that willful disobedience of the orders of the court makes you liable to contempt proceedings.”

On Monday, Chief Justice Kenneth Benjamin issued the Supreme Court’s prerogative writ of mandamus to the Commissioner of Police, whom the court found had acted “unreasonable, irrational and unlawful”, in the handling of the Penner passport scandal.

Amandala made several attempts to speak with Minister of National Security John Saldivar and his Chief Executive Officer, the retired BDF Colonel George Lovell, but we were unsuccessful.

We did, however, manage to speak with Assistant Superintendent of Police Julio Valdez, whose name was mentioned by the Director of Public Prosecutions, Cheryl-Lynn Vidal, in a confidential memorandum to the head of National Crimes Investigation Branch, in relation to the police’s investigation that was halted upon “instructions,” but Valdez would only say, “I have no comments for the media.”

Amandala has learned that on Tuesday, Crimes Investigation Branch (CIB) officers went to the Immigration Department in Belmopan and at least two senior officers were questioned about the illegal issuance of Belize Passport PO246777 and Belize Nationality Certificate No. 28577/13, issued to the imprisoned South Korean Won Hong Kim, who was never in Belize at the time when the passport and nationality certificate were signed by the disgraced former Minister of State Elvin Penner, who subsequently admitted to knowing the ‘’businessman” “ before he [Penner] entered politics.”

In his affidavit filed for the judicial review, the Leader of the Opposition said, “I am advised and verily believe that it is an offense under section 22 of the Belize Nationality Act, Cap for a person to make a statement, which he knows to be false in a material particular, for the purpose of procuring a Belize Nationality Certificate.”

“I am further advised that it is also an offense under section 3 of the Passports Act, Cap for a person, without having actual knowledge of the applicant of a passport, makes a declaration for such applicant, vouching the fitness of that application to receive a passport, or makes such declaration merely on information obtained from the applicant or from any other person.”

In his letter to Commissioner Whylie, Flowers said: “On instructions of our client, the Leader of the Opposition, we write requesting an update on the progress of the criminal investigation. Given the exceptional nature of this case and the fact that you are mandated to conclude your investigation within the period of time remaining (three days), it will display bona fides on your part to so give such an update.”

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