Will Compol Allen Whylie charge Penner before statute of limitation kicks in?
Friday, March 7th, 2014
The Belize Supreme Court Chief Justice (CJ) Kenneth Benjamin has ordered the Commissioner of Police (Compol) Allen Whylie to immediately commence a criminal investigation against Former Minister of State Elvin Penner. The ruling came after CJ Benjamin granted the Leader of the Opposition Francis Fonseca the Writ of Mandamus against Compol Whylie. The top police commandant criminally investigates Penner for his role in the Belizean nationality and passport granted to South Korean criminal fugitive Won Hong Kim.
The CJ ruling was handed down on Monday March 3rd in the Supreme Court and in his explanation, CJ Benjamin said it came after carefully looking at the materials presented before him. The ruling by CJ Benjamin is not only historical but it outlines clearly that there was indeed enough material from the onset, to act against Penner. The declaration in favor of People’s United Party Leader Fonseca said that the Compol’s decision not to investigate Penner was “irrational, unreasonable, and unlawful”.
“It’s a victory for our democracy and so we are pleased with the decision. The decision today is obviously being finalized right now, but in effect the Chief Justice has ruled in our favor, [and] has ordered that the writ of mandamus be issued against the defendant, the Commissioner of Police, in this case ordering him that an investigation be completed; if it has been started, it has to be completed… The Chief Justice of Belize has ruled that the position is unlawful, it is arbitrary, it is unreasonable, it is unfair and he has ordered him to in fact carry out that investigation,” said Fonseca to the press as he exited the courtroom.
One important element of the case had to do with a memorandum sent from the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions Cheryl-Lynn Vidal to the Head of the Police National Criminal Investigations Branch (CIB), Assistant Superintendent of Police Julio Valdez. The memo, which was leaked to the media days before Writ of Mandamus was heard, shows that an investigation was started by the CIB office but was halted. The DPP’s memo said that in his statement, ASP Julio Valdez said “After the documents were examined it was observed that several nationalities were approved by Immigration to individuals without meeting the criteria for approval, yet they were processed and approved… this line of the investigation did not continue, due to instructions, no other follow [up] was made.” The DPP did not get a response as to who gave the “instructions” to stop the investigation.
Of interest to note is the offense committed in regards to the nationality issued to Kim and the passport granted thereafter, both have a statute of limitation. The statute of limitation as it relates to the nationality kicked in on Monday March 3rd while the next statute bar would kick into effect on Sunday, March 9 for the fraudulent passport that Penner pushed through for Kim. It is uncertain at this time whether or not Penner will be charged before Sunday.