~ Plasterk disagrees with ordering criminal investigation ~
THE HAGUE–Member of the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament Ronald van Raak of the Socialist Party (SP) temporarily shelved his motion calling for a criminal investigation of United People’s (UP) party leader Theo Heyliger on Tuesday.
Van Raak announced the wish to shelve the motion at the start of Parliament’s voting session. The motion, tabled during the handling of the draft 2015 Kingdom Relations budget last Wednesday, included two components.
It requested the Dutch Government to take the initiative for a Kingdom investigation of the vote-buying practices of the UP party. It also requested the Dutch Government to support the St. Maarten Prosecutor’s Office in such a way that a deep and independent investigation was possible.
In an invited comment Van Raak said that he was keeping the motion “in store” in case the St. Maarten Prosecutor’s Office didn’t make haste with an investigation of UP’s vote-buying practices and Theo Heyliger. “That investigation must take place,” he said.
The Prosecutor’s Office should be able to initiate an investigation when a special white-collar-crime unit has been sent to St. Maarten from The Hague, as part of the action plan that was announced by Dutch Minister of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Ronald Plasterk last Wednesday to strengthen St. Maarten’s Justice Sector in an effort to improve integrity.
Van Raak said he would put his motion back on the table if the Prosecutor’s Office didn’t go over to investigating the indications of vote-buying practices that have been ventilated by the Court in Philipsburg. In that case, the Kingdom Council of Ministers should also give St. Maarten an instruction.
Van Raak emphasized that he had not shelved his motion due to the statements of numerous people on the island that Members of the Second Chamber should not meddle in local, autonomous affairs. “If people don’t want the Netherlands to meddle, then they should stop the corruption, stop buying votes and stop being paid by the mafia,” he said.
Minister Plasterk said during the handling of the draft budget last Wednesday that he could agree with Van Raak’s motion where it concerned the part of supporting the Prosecutor’s Office as this was, in fact, happening by sending a special justice unit to the island in the near future.
Plasterk did not agree with the part about the Dutch Government ordering a criminal investigation of Heyliger and the buying of votes. He stressed that St. Maarten, just like the Netherlands and most other countries in the world, had separation of powers. Van Raak’s request violated that principle. “Government cannot sit in the seat of the Prosecution, but we will provide support to the Prosecutor’s Office,” he said.
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