Commissioner of Police Allen Whylie has denied Citizens Organized for Liberty through Action (COLA)’s request for evidence to aid the group’s private prosecution of former Minister of State, Elvin Penner.
Whylie, via a succinct, one-paragraph letter to COLA, dated May 20th, wrote: “The Police investigation, which may lead to a public prosecution in respect of allegations made against Mr. Elvin Penner, is still ongoing.
“Consequently, the Law by virtue of Section 24 of the Freedom of Information Act…exempts information from being disclosed while an investigation is pending.”
The denial of police evidence is sure to have a significant effect on COLA’s case, which is scheduled to resume next week.
COLA, responding to Whylie’s letter via press release, pointed out a few inconsistencies between the Commissioner’s most recent position and that which he shared with the media last week.
They noted that when he spoke with reporters last Wednesday, he said: “I would say it [the investigation] is concluded and, as I said, the file was submitted to DPP (Cheryl-Lynn Vidal) and if DPP sends it back along with directives, those will be complied with.”
The Reporter contacted the DPP today and she again told us what she told us last week: She does not have the file and it “has not been returned” to her.
The DPP informed us last week that she had indeed sent the file back to the police in April for inclusion of additional evidence. She said that she has been waiting for it ever since.
COLA accuses the Commissioner of standing in the way of further action by “dragging out the matter, potentially making the chance of achieving justice slimmer with each passing day.”
Under the Freedom of Information Act, the various government departments involved in the investigation can withhold information in a number of scenarios.
It is on other parts of this same document that COLA is relying to obtain the evidence it needs for its case against Penner.
The case will resume next Thursday in Belmopan.