BELMOPAN, Cayo District, Wed. Feb. 22, 2017–The Senate Select Committee has issued summons to Eric Chang, former Belize City Deputy Mayor, and Patrick Tillett, Belize City Council Financial Controller.
Two weeks ago, the two men were invited by the Committee to respond to allegations made against them in the Auditor General’s Special Report for the period 2011-2013.
The report claimed that an Immigration officer removed 8 visa stickers from the Western border and gave it to a man identified as “Mr. Middleton,” who took them to Belize City and sold them to Chang and Tillett, who wrote statements confirming this transaction.
In an interview today, Wednesday, chairman of the committee, Aldo Salazar, confirmed, “As far as I understand, we have issued the summons. I am not sure if it’s for today’s date or yesterday, but we have issued it.”
Salazar also told the media that the laws of Belize empower the Senate to compel witnesses to make themselves available.
“The 1962 Act gives the legislature certain powers and privileges and part of that speaks to the powers of the Senate to call witnesses, etcetera. How it directly affects us is that when these laws predate the Constitution, there is a Constitutional provision which saves all the laws that existed prior to the Constitution, except that where there is an inconsistency with any law; then that law must be modified, so that the Constitutional provisions are retained,” explained Salazar.
He continued, “A summons is a document that compels the attendance of a certain witness; if the person fails to attend who has received a summons, then there is a further procedure where the person may be detained and brought before the Senate. I’m not sure if the language calls it a warrant at this time, so I wouldn’t want to say that it is. I’m not sure, but there is a process by which police can bring somebody to appear before the Senate.”
When the media asked if the summons would be enough to bring the duo before the committee, Salazar said that following legal consultation, the committee strongly believed so.
However, it is not yet known when exactly Chang and Tillett will be expected to appear in front of the committee.
“I can’t say for sure, because there is a certain time period that must elapse from the day between when you are served with summons and the date when you are to appear, so that really depends on when service is effected,” said Salazar.