Emanuel Pech- Reporter for Plus TV
Many questioned whether Elvin Penner would even show up at the Magistrate court in Belmopan today. However, he did show up; and showed up with some forty supporters wearing red shirts with the words, “Elvin Penner, Siempre Disponible Para el Pueblo” – Always for the people, emblazoned at the back. His entourage escorted him to the foot of the building and filed inside until the police authorities were forced to barricade the entrance preventing anyone else from going in. Despite all the commotion, today’s hearing was short. The two charges were read to Penner, who is being represented by Senior Counsel Ellis Arnold. Penner pleaded not guilty to both charges and was granted bail in the sum of $2,000 plus one surety of the same amount. We approached the Ex- Minister of State for comment, but he did not have much to say.
The Ex-Minister of State came and left in the same fashion- fortified by an entourage of political supporters. President of COLA, Geovanni Bracket, says he is not in the least bit impressed.
Reporter: “Can we start off with what you guys observed there where the political muscle of Cayo Northeast came out to help to shield their area representative?”
Geovanni Bracket: “I mean, the worst criminal will have supporters, it doesn’t intimidate us to have a few people to support Mr. Penner. you have seen COLA. We have brought a couple of hundreds to support Peck. Quite contrary to what people talk, we could have done”.
The DPP Sheryl-Lyn Vidal was present at the court today to lend her support to the prosecution. Kareem Musa, attorney representing the prosecution, explained the legal proceedings that took place in court today’
“Yes, in court today, Mr, Penner was charged with two criminal offenses. Both of them are summary offenses which is why I did not objected to bail; they are not te serious offenses; The DPP alluded to the fact that there is a more serious offense under Section I. 71 of the Criminal Code and I think that is still being considered. But today was the charges that we in the PUP had brought in the writ of mandamus; the very same charges are the charges that COLA instituted which is, under Section III. (h) of the Passports Acts and Section XXII. of the Belize nationality Act. Those are the summary offenses that he has been charged with and was offered bail in the sum of $2,000 for each offense”.
Reporter Emanuel Pech: “So, where will the case move on from here?”
“The adjourned date is the 29th day of May 2014. On that day, it is expected that COLA and myself will be presenting the disclosure of documents, and of course, it is very important, and I have to say this, that the prosecution depends a lot on the Commissioner of Police. So, over the next two months, we will be demanding that the Commissioner that he turn over the files. Whatever evidence and investigation he has gathered, we need this to turn over to COLA”.
According to Bracket, this is a monumental step towards social justice
“Today, it is a very historical moment for the fact that our root organization across had to be the one that stepped in the gap to charge Elvin Penner. I mean, it doesn’t get any bigger than that. That is a historical moment; not that we wanted top stop there, but coming here today, a lot of people thought that this case would have been thrown out. In fact, a lot of people thought that COLA would have not gone anywhere with this matter. It was a very risky one for the two charges to be laid on him, but when the writ of mandamus was issued, it strengthened our stand and having the DPP to discuss with us coming on board, that allows us to give us some legitimacy to this matter. So, we are happy today that a step towards justice has been taken”.
For Plus News Emanuel Pech.
Nedal McLaren, Executive Officer of Cola, who signed the filed-private-prosecution along with Geovanni Bracket said that this is, quote “a sad day, for me this is no glorious day, this is a tragic day that corruption of this mass, is being covered from the cabinet level, all the way down to the police level, it’s insulting.”
The case was adjourned to the 29th of May 2014.