By Marion V. Ali
Arthur Saldivar, the attorney who made news when he revealed to the media immigration files that were set aside for destruction in the passport/visa scandal, said that he retrieved the documents from the mile three dumpsite on the George Price Highway.
Saldivar explained that he found out about the files from a relative of one of his clients. He said the person told him that there were documents that he believed Saldivar would be interested in that were being destroyed at the dumpsite.
“I went there, I found documents in plastic bags.” Saldivar said.
“ I retrieved those documents and I perused them. Upon perusing the documents, I realized that these were certainly matters of great national interest.”
In addition to that, Saldivar told us that while he has no proof, key people have informed him that it was a prominent member of the Cabinet, a Belize City area representative who made the files available for destruction. “In fact there were people from his constituency who were doing this work”, Saldivar added.
Saldivar’s explanation to this newspaper of how he came to be in possession of the files followed Senator Godwin Hulse’s remarks to reporters last week when he said as the Minister of Immigration that he was hoping that the police investigation “would have been able to determine how the files went missing, who was responsible for their disappearance, and how they wound up in Arthur Saldivar’s hand.”
Saldivar agreed with Mr. Hulse who questioned how the files were removed from his office.
“There should be a chain of custody as it relates to files going from one hand to the next to the next, and that documentation should still exist at the Ministry of Immigration”, Saldivar remarked.
Saldivar continued by sharing his views that when his name comes up relating to the files, it is a ploy to distract the public from the real issue, which is that the person at the centre of the scandal, former Minister of State in Immigration, Elvin Penner, should have been a key part of the police investigation.
As for the public’s reaction to the whole matter, Saldivar said that Belizeans have been far too tolerant to “not have been motivated to go out and do what is necessary to bring this matter to closure”, referring to protests that people in neighbouring countries have lead when similar wrongdoings are exposed in their countries.