The Inferior Court Appeal launched by Geovanni Brackett and Nedal McLaren, respectively President and National Security Adviser for Citizens Organized for Liberty through Action (COLA), against Cayo Northeast area representative Elvin Penner, in respect of a decision by Magistrate Aretha Ford to dismiss charges against him, after denying an application to summon Commissioner of Police Allen Whylie among others to give evidence, began Friday morning before Chief Justice Kenneth Benjamin.
However, it was just as quickly adjourned as Elvin Penner, who was not present in court, only recently retained new counsel in the case in the person of Tricia Pitts-Anderson, who replaces Senior Counsel Ellis Arnold.
The Chief Justice granted Pitts-Anderson time to review the case and get in touch with her client.
Geovanni Brackett and Nedal McLaren’s attorney is Kareem Musa.
“Today was the first hearing of that appeal. As you know this matter concluded at the Magistrate’s Court level last year and in August of last year we had filed our notice of appeal, we filed our grounds 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 attorney. As you would recall at the Magistrate’s Court 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 would be needing a little time to prepare her arguments for a full hearing which is scheduled now for the twenty-seventh of February, that’s in two weeks ,in believe.”
“Sir, what do you make of the judge’s order, that Mr. Elvin Penner should appear on the next adjournment and that he wasn’t here this time?”
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’s absolutely necessary for him to be here. This is a case that involves him as a defendant, so he has to be here.”
Giovanni Brackett, in speaking with reporters, seemed a little skeptical of the change in circumstances; nonetheless he says the fight for justice continues.
“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 differently,but we have agreed and we are going to be here on the twenty-seventh [of this Month].
We are hoping for the Belizean public 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.”
According to Nedal McLaren, there remain other questions the Government has to answer with regard to immigration issues.
“The Government of Belize has all the evidence required to bring this Penner case to justice, and they refuse to hand it out. The Commissioner of Police has not handed it over to COLA. According to the Chief Justice he should have continued his investigation by law.
The Ministry of National Security who has vetted Mr Kim.
They still have not addressed the issue of this visa situation within the Foreign Ministry
There’s a lot of situations of national security importance that the Government of Belize has refused to address.”
The case returns to court on February 27.