By Wellington C. Ramos
What are the possible outcomes for the PUP taking the police commissioner to court and what do they really want to accomplish?
The judge can only make one of two rulings, which are:
1. For the commissioner of police to investigate Elvin Penner; or
2. That if the commissioner of police believes that there is no merit for him to investigate Elvin Penner, then he can exercise his discretion and not investigate Elvin Penner.
Born in Dangriga Town, the cultural capital of Belize, Wellington Ramos has BAs in Political Science and History from Hunter College, NY, and an MA in Urban Studies from Long Island University. He is an Adjunct Professor of Political Science and History
Reaction: If the commissioner of police does not feel that Elvin Penner should be investigated because it will be a complete waste of his time, then he will not make all the efforts to find the evidence to bring charges against him.
However, if it is the opposite then he will aggressively use all his efforts to investigate and send the file to the director of public prosecutions for review and court hearings. Based on my experience, the crimes that Elvin Penner is alleged to have committed are felonies that will be tried in the Belize Supreme Court and could end up in the, Caribbean Court of Justice for appeal and final resolution.
In Belize, like most democratic countries, we function on the premise that "a person is innocent until proven guilty". This case will then be brought to the Magistrate Court for the reading of the charges against him, and then there will be a preliminary inquiry before it ends up at the Supreme Court for trial and possibly the CCJ.
If at any time the director of public prosecutions believes that there is not sufficient evidence to obtain a guilty verdict, she can request a hearing in the court and move a motion to the judge for all charges to be withdrawn against Elvin Penner. This would be the first time in Belize's history that a sitting member of the House of Representatives would be charged and brought before a court of law for breaking the laws in Belize.
When the former prime minister of Belize and his housing minister Ralph Fonseca were brought to court for the diversion of US$20 million sent to Belize to build houses for the poor, they had already left the government. The charges against them were later dismissed due to insufficient evidence, while the UDP was recently elected to the government of Belize.
Belizeans, let us not be fooled to believe that the members of the People's United Party care about justice and compliance with the laws of our country. Their history of lawlessness is so huge that, if exposed, you would want to know when they became saints. This whole thing is part of their desperation move to take back the reins of the government from the UDP by any means necessary because of the slim majority they currently hold.
Elvin Penner will wait for them to bring the charges, convict him before he decides to remove himself from the House of Representatives. Why? Because any good lawyer will tell him that is the wisest thing for him to do and the PUPs know this. He has nothing to lose and if I was in his position I would do the same thing. The prime minister of Belize is monitoring his representatives because of the slim majority he holds and as of now he is outmaneuvering the PUPs and to me they look confused.
If Penner is indicted, he will instruct his party to have a convention in Penner's constituency to elect a new standard bearer for that area. Once that happens, we will all just have to wait for the outcome of the trial to see if Penner is convicted then removed from office and a by-election held to replace him for that constituency. The PUPs want to take over the government of Belize and nothing else.
That can only happen if the prime minister calls early elections, which I do not think he will do. Or if they get some UDP members to switch political parties, even if they have to induce them with something. They tried this before when they lost an election that they thought they were going to win. The desperation and hunger for power is forcing them to try anything. They had better consult the Belizean people to see if they want them back in power after the disaster they left in 2008.
UDP has its faults because no government is perfect; they all have their flaws. The people must always ask which party represents them and their interest the most. When one looks at the people who are in the hierarchy of the People's United Party, it is not reflective of a true ethnic makeup for our country of Belize and I am concerned like many Belizeans.
I call on the lawyers and political writers in Belize to explain the process to our people so that we can educate our people about how our legal and political system works. Let us watch while this drama plays out for some time.