Nationality Section Closed

Tonight, the nationality section of the Immigration Department has been closed down pending investigation into missing documents. No official word has been received but 7news has learned that it will be closed for two weeks as an inventory of all documents is conducted. We could not reach Immigration minister Godwin Hulse for comment, but 7News has learned that after Arthur Saldivar's allegation last night that hundreds of documents had been set aside for destruction - an investigation has to be made to see if indeed files are missing or were secretly set aside for disposal.

It's is a very big "if", and virtually an existential one for the Department as they face the very real prospect that a parallel operation was running in the background, secretly issuing nationality documents for files that never came to the surface. Again, we stress that is only a possibility -but one we must speculate on - after Arthur Saldivar produced more documents of dubious and disturbing origin today.

This time one of the documents is an original, a nationality certificate for for Yiu Pang Chen, A Taiwanese - with a picture that looked like it was photoshopped by a preschooler. He got his nationality in May of 2013, signed by Elvin Penner.

The second is for Jalal Ebrahimi form the United Arab emirates, Iran who says he live sin the South End of the Croozal District - and that certificate was signed by Penner on the 23rd August 2013, though the certificate we saw bears no seal and the quality of the paper is not consistent with the other certificate we saw. But there's a copy of a certificate for it dated the 18th July, 2013.

Indeed, many, many questions - none of them with answers that give any sense that this scandal will end soon. Saldivar - who brought the documents to the media this afternoon - outlined what he know about these documents:...

Arthur Saldivar
"Now the two individuals whose names appear on the documents; one is a supposedly oriental. You will notice that the picture on the document itself appear to be somewhat manufactured, somewhat manipulated and the other individual is a Middle Eastern person. Jalal Ebrahimi."

"From our information Mr. Ebrahimi is a person of ill-reputed and there may be a situation where he is being investigated internationally. The reception of applications for these persons - the files don't show all the required documents."

"For those in the public who may not be aware of the procedure for the acquisition of nationality - one of the documents that one would require being a foreign natural being naturalize is the permanent residence and the permanent residence card. There should be a copy of a permanent residence card in each one of these files because that's the first step to obtaining nationality."

"There is no permanent residence card attached to any of these files that were being destroyed. These files are evidence, evidence that would be used in a court of law if a criminal investigation was launched. The mere fact that these files were brought outside of the office basically gives rise to the specter of a deliberate act to suppress, destroy, removed or conceal evidence of corruption."

Marion Ali, reporter - LOVE TV NEWS
"What if the card exists but you personally don't have it?"

Arthur Saldivar
"Well if the card exist and I don't have it then it would be an easily explainable situation for the government and for the Ministry of Immigration and certainly it is now incumbent upon them to show that it does. Every receipt for these documents was signed by one Ady Pacheco at the Nationality Section. Now Ady Pacheco, you would recall that in the situation involving Kim, she was also there at the Nationality Section and her name appeared on those documents as well. This is a person who is now being process for promotion at the Immigration Department."

"The Prime Minister has solely focused on Penner and Penner's role, but certainly Penner could not accomplish what he has done alone. There were others who were involved in this; Ady Pacheco being one. We must look in relation to the convict Kim to what occurred in Taiwan as well."

Jules Vasquez
"If you are as you say literally digging through the garbage or retrieving it from a disposal process, fair? How do you know that you have all the pieces of information?"

Arthur Saldivar
"I am drawing no conclusions. I am putting forward what was unearthed for public scrutiny. These are documents that were officially received by the Immigration Department which is a department of the government, it pertains to Belizean nationality. These are not files that you discard. These are files that should have been process because the fees were paid for them to be process, hence the production of the receipt. The only conclusion that can be drawn from them being discarded is that there is something wrong with them of a nature that cannot be explained by the department. Hence, the easiest way to circumvent any scrutiny from an official point of view is to get rid of them."

Jules Vasquez
"Well then you would shred them. Paper shredders cost $125."

Arthur Saldivar
"Listen, I am not the one charge with the process of disposal. What I would tell you is that the next time we speak the actual binder; the green immigration binders that's all these files come in - because when they start to file it is placed in a green binder and every document pertaining to that applicant is entered into that binder. These came from out of that binder and the next time I speak to the press a binder will be brought forward."

"As a naturalize citizen must have that certificate of naturalization kept on file into perpetuity so that they can always access the information that allows for them to claim the identity of a Belizean. How is it that you have some persons who are seeking to be so classified be made to have their documents destroyed? It would then render them Re Polemis, citizen without a country."

And while the storyline is compelling, the fact is Saldivar does not have all the information, and neither does the media. In fact, the entire narrative as he has presented it so far is somewhat clouded. He claims the documents were set aside for destruction, and that others had been destroyed by fire - but Sadivar has presented no clear constructive evidence of this and neither has he been forthcoming about the source of the documents. That led to a testy exchange with the media today:...

Arthur Saldivar
"Let me explain something to you guys. What I have in my possession were not in a fire; you don't see any burns, singes no, these were not in a fire. There were documents that were burnt and destroyed. These weren't. These were spared."

Jules Vasquez
"If they were burnt and destroyed then tell us where they were."

Rowland Parks, reporter
"Is there any proof photographic or otherwise of the documents that were burnt?"

Jules Vasquez
"You have a big phone in your pocket, it can't take pictures?"

Arthur Saldivar
"No."

Jules Vasquez
"An embellishment to dramatize your story."

Arthur Saldivar
"Not at all, but again, you are free to draw whatever conclusion you will."

Jules Vasquez
"I am saying you cannot expose transparency while yourself being half transparent."

Arthur Saldivar
"Again Jules, my purpose here is not an investigator, my purpose here is simply to facilitate the information that is to be given in relation to what is taking place at Immigration Department as it relates to these files that emanate from that department."

Jules Vasquez
"However the provenance must be specified."

Arthur Saldivar
"The provenance is in the documents themselves."

Jules Vasquez
"The provenance is in the story you created."

Arthur Saldivar
"Not at all, no, the provenance is in the document."

Jules Vasquez
"You created a narrative."

Arthur Saldivar
"The narrative is only relative to what is here, not in relation to where the documents were when I received them, but where they originated from."

Media practitioners also pressured Saldivar to release the documents in tranches rather than by one's or two's. He's promised to release another set tomorrow, so we'll see how that goes.

Channel 7