Prosecution takes election fraud serious: “Defendants put integrity police and country at risk”POSTED: 08/5/14 11:21 PM
St. Maarten – Prosecutor Maarten Noordzij called the election fraud that allegedly took place in 2010 is a serious wrong. “All defendants work for the police. They should be role models and stay far from morally reprehensible behavior. They put the integrity of the police at risk and they caused damage to the reputation of the police, the volunteer corps and the country.”
The prosecutor noted that the case had caused a lot of commotion in St Maarten and at the Kingdom level. “In spite of the time lapse it is important that the criminal court handles this case now.”
The Chief Commissioner submitted the internal dossier from the police force about the election fraud to the prosecutor’s office on October 28, 2010. On November 4, the prosecution transferred the case to the National Detective Agency. There, the case got stuck until April 4, 2012.
Prosecutor Noordzij said that it took so long because the National Detective Agency had not enough personnel and resources to handle its workload adequately. Later there was also a short period of understaffing at the prosecutor’s office. The prosecutor regretted the time it took to bring the case to court. “The community would have benefited if the case had been brought to court sooner. The time lapse is not good but there is an explanation. This case is very important and his is why it is good that it is now handled in public.”
The prosecutor said that there had been no investigation into the role of the United People’s party. “It could have been done and that it was not done is regrettable, but again, there is an explanation.”
There are sufficient indications in the dossier that warrant an investigation of the leadership and the board of the UP. “It has however been a conscious decision by the Public Prosecutor’s Office not to do that investigation anymore after almost four years. Feasibility and capacity played a role in that decision. In the initial phase, the investigation has also been kept small consciously.”
Noordzij criticized a conclusion the National Detective Agency drew in a report. The agency said – simply put – that it could not establish that any political party had bribed voters. “The National Detective Agency should not have drawn this conclusion and it has overstepped its boundaries,” he said. “This is a legal conclusion that cannot be substantiated with documents from the dossier.”
The prosecutor said that the defendants had played an active role. The three men asked for $700 and Glinda W. wanted $650, he said. Roy H. admitted, confronted with statements from the co-defendants, that he gave envelopes with cash to Robert J.
The prosecutor said that it is irrelevant whether the defendants really voted for the UP. “With the bribery, the crime has been completed.”
Noordzij said that in principle, election fraud ought to be punished with unconditional prison sentences, but that he diverged from this principle because the fraud took place so long ago.
He noted that Roy H. had put fair elections at risk by bribing police officers. “The defendant abused the fact that the co-defendants were in a financially bad position and therefor vulnerable for bribery.”