PUP issues deadline on Compol Allen Whylie to criminally charge Elvin Penner
Saturday, February 15th, 2014
The People’s United Party (PUP) has given the Commission of Police (Compol) Allen Whylie seven days to act against Honorable Elvin Penner and criminally charge him for wrongdoings. In a six page letter, dated Friday February 7th, and served to the Compol’s office on Monday February 10th, the PUP outlines evidence incriminating the Former Minister of State in the Ministry of National Security with responsibility of the Nationality and Passport Department in a passport scandal. If Compol Whylie fails to charge Penner in seven days, the PUP will ask the courts to force Compol Whylie to execute his duties as mandated by law.
The letter points out the illegal issuance of a Belize Nationally Certificate number 28577/13 dated April 22, 2013 and a Belize Passport number P-0246777 dated September 8, 2013 issued to criminal fugitive South Korean national, Won Hong Kim. “We have been instructed by the Leader of [the] Opposition, Honorable Francis Fonseca to write to you on this matter of national importance. The measure is taken, having regard to the fact that five months have passed and the investigation continues. This poses grave concern to our client, who has a constitutional responsibility to, among other things, ensure that the rule of law is upheld in this country,” states the letter in which it points out a similar case before the Privy Council in a case from Trinidad and Tobago.
The letter goes on to say that “there is more than prima facie (sufficient evidence to establish a fact or raise a presumption unless rebutted) evidence which presently exists and for which criminal charges at this stage, ought to be brought against Hon. Elvin Penner for commission of an offence under the Passport Act.” This was further elaborated by one of the PUP attorneys, Anthony Sylvester during a press briefing on Tuesday February 11th. Sylvester said that statements made by the Prime Minister of Belize Hon Dean Barrow and Minister Godwin Hulse who has been leading the government internal investigation, incriminates Penner. “In fact, Penner by way of an email he sent, and who he later confirmed was sent by him, in which he details his role in the nationality and issuance of the passport, further incriminates Penner,” said Sylvester. “[Penner] details that he went in with some individual that he [Penner] thought was Kim but later on realized that this person was masqueraded and pretended to be Kim. [It is] very simple – him by admitting, [Penner] would have committed an offence under the Passport Act,” further explained Sylvester.
Section 3 (1) (h) of the passport Act states that every person who, in respect to every passport “without having actual knowledge of the applicant for a passport, makes any declaration verifying the declaration of such applicant, or vouching the fitness of such applicant to receive a passport or makes any such declaration merely on information obtained from the applicant or from any other person,” commits and offence under such act.
Because the case is a summary office, and has a status of limitation of six months since the date the issue was first made public, time is running out. The scandal first came to light on September 19, 2013 which will allow until March for criminal charges under the Nationality Act, to be brought against the much embattled Penner, the Area Representative of Cayo Northeast.
The PUP letter to the Compol advises that if no actions are taken by the Police Department within seven days, the PUP will initiate judicial review proceedings against Whylie. It states that it invites the Compol to respond but if nothing is done in seven days, “A writ of mandamus, directing the Commissioner to take relevant statement and lay charges against Hon Elvin Penner,” will be sought. “We are cognizant that the remedy of mandamus is an exceptional one and the court is slow to grant such, but the circumstances set out above are exceptional themselves, and require the exceptional intervening hand of the court,” ends the letter.
A writ of mandamus is basically an extraordinary order by the court’s high judge commanding an official, in this case Compol Whylie, to perform his ministerial act that the law recognizes as an absolute duty and not a matter for the official’s discretion. It is sought only when all other judicial remedies fail.
The letter was copied to the Director of Public Prosecution Cherlyn Vidal, since at some point, she would have to be consulted by Whylie should the writ of mandamus is successful.