By Marion Ali
The trial date in the private prosecution against Elvin Penner, former junior minister in Barrow administration, is set for July 24.
That is when evidence will be presented and witnesses will testify on behalf of the Citizens Organized for Liberty through Action (COLA), which is heading the prosecution.
The date was set by Belmopan Magistrate Aretha Ford in court on Thursday, after Kareem Musa, attorney for COLA, informed that he had furnished the evidence he had to Ellis Arnold, S.C., attorney for Penner.
Musa explained that he had discussed with Arnold that he would be prepared to go to trial on July 24.
Arnold agreed to the date, provided that Musa and COLA will be ready to proceed with the trial on that date.
Magistrate Ford adjourned the case until then.
Meanwhile, outside the courthouse, Penner, who has remained silent throughout the court proceedings and the period since the passport scandal broke, offered very little comment. His only comment was that he had no comment.
Musa told reporters that he is still waiting on a few things: the statements that various persons gave as part of the investigation, and the Belizean passport issued to Won Hong Kim, the Korean businessman who was in a Taiwanese jail when the scandal broke in September of 2013.
He and COLA’s President Geovanni Brackett appealed to those persons who still have evidence to assist the prosecution in the case.
Musa did say that he will proceed with what he has even if he does not get those files.
He did not volunteer what new evidence he has received and handed over, but he admitted that the draft report by the Auditor General is part of the disclosure that he intends to rely on in court.
Musa also said that even without the files, he remains optimistic that he will get a conviction against Penner because section 30 of the Summary Jurisdiction Act allows magistrates to order persons holding on to evidence to handover that evidence.
Luke Palacio, the BNTU national president and the Belize District president, Kathleen Flowers, appeared in court to support COLA in its pursuit of Pener.
Palacio told reporters that the Rod of Correction (ROC) of which they are a part, has no political axe to grind but has concerns about national issues.
The passport/visa issue, he said, has to do with our patrimony.
Palacio also reminded that the BNTU and the National Trade Union Congress of Belize were among the first who had called for a thorough investigation into the scandal and had insisted that justice must be served.