They announced it via press release late Wednesday and confirmed it on Thursday: Citizens Organized for Liberty through Action (COLA) is taking Elvin Penner to court. Following the suggestion of Prime Minister Dean Barrow, the organization intends to file two charges against the ex-Minister of State in Belmopan for violations of the Belizean Nationality and Passport Acts. COLA President Giovanni Brackett says Elvin Penner must be brought to justice, but time is of the essence.
“The Prime Minister is saying on one hand that this is an option. We consider the Prime Minister a senior council. So we don’t think the Prime Minister would put out a suggestion out there if that was not in fact the case. So we at COLA will get the ball rolling by filing tomorrow and see where does that go. Then, as it develops, we will inform the media whether in fact this was actually an avenue we could take, or couldn’t take. The reason why we have to file tomorrow is because the six months will be up pretty soon. Actually, by Monday it will be up.”
COLA is asking attorneys interested in assisting their case to come forward, but says that come what may, on Friday morning at 10:00 in Belmopan Penner will face charges. According to member Rufus X, it has been a long time coming.
“During the General Election, Elvin Penner was interviewed and he admitted, and told the entire Belizean public, ‘I have spent fifteen thousand dollars of my own money registering foreign citizens (and mainly Guatemalans) to vote in the election,’ giving them nationality. He paid for it out of his pocket and admitted it! But Mr Barrow stoned the people in their faces, and when they were successful at the election he made Elvin Penner a Junior Minister of Immigration.
Giovanni Brackett says the issue is tied to the fate of three officers of the Immigration Department who await the decision of the Public Services Commission on their continued employment
“But you cannot have the Immigration Officers to be put out there, to be driven in the month, and try to separate what happened with Immigration Officers, and separate Penner from it. If you want justice, the Police Department is supposed to come to these Immigration Officers, grant them immunity for evidence and for testimony, and then move forward with a solid investigation.
The organization offered little details on how strong and tight its case was, and where it intended to gather the evidence it needs for a successful prosecution, preferring to insist that time was running out and it wished to pursue all avenues and means of bringing Penner to heel.