Court to reconsider 2008 bribery-charges Retrial MP Laveist Thursday afternoonPOSTED: 05/22/12 12:00 PM
GREAT BAY – The Common Court of Justice handles the retrial of the bribery-case against National Alliance MP Louie Laveist on Thursday afternoon. The retrial became necessary due to a technicality. The Supreme Court in The Hague ruled in October that the Common Court of Justice had failed to include the evidence on which it based its sentence in its ruling. Instead, the court added the evidence in an appendix.
More than two years ago, on February 11, 2010, the Common Court of Justice sentenced Laveist to a 5,000 guilders (almost $2,800) fine or 55 days imprisonment, a 6-month suspended jail sentence, and a 3-year ban on the right to work in the civil service or as a member of the government. The court ruling did not affect Laveist’s right to be a member of the Island Council and its successor, the parliament.
In 2011 the Appeals Court acquitted Laveist of forging the minutes of the Culture Club Foundation, of defrauding the Antillean co-financing organization Amfo of 22,750 guilders (about $12,700) and of employing an illegal hairdresser at Barbershop 2.
The court did find Laveist guilty of bribery, though it found no proof that he had accepted $10,000 from A. Bembo or Bemal enterprises. The court did find proof that Laveist accepted airline tickets from this company for a trip to Canada in exchange for promoting that Benmal enterprises would get the order to equip the new government administration building with furniture or at least to give the company preferential treatment in future tenders for this project.
The court also convicted Laveist for taking a $6,000 bribe from Bargains Unlimited N.V. The company wrote a $6,000 check on December 7, 2007 for Laveist’s Culture Club Foundation. Three days later the company sent a letter to the Executive Council requesting several work permits. “The Executive Council reacted in part positively to the request, in spite of the fact that there was a different advice (from the labor department – ed.),” the Appeals Court ruled last year.
In March, the retrial was postponed because Laveist’s new attorney, mr. Jason Rogers had not received the case file yet from the previous attorney, mr. Remco Stomp.
The Laveist-investigation started in October 2008. He was arrested on October 22 at his home in Cole Bay. Two days later the Judge of Instruction extended his detention by eight days. Aitchen R., an assistant of the former Commissioner of Labor was also arrested. He was charged with taking bribes, but so far he has not been prosecuted.
On April 28, 2009, the Court in First Instance sentenced Laveist to 18 months imprisonment, with 9 months suspended, a 5,000 guilder fine and a 5-year ban from office.
The Appeals Court mitigated the sentence, mainly because Laveist had been subjected to structural observation by a team that was specially flown in from the Netherlands for this purpose. However, there was no legal basis for subjecting a suspect to structural observation at the time.
The parliament still has to approve the law on special investigation methods that makes structural observation legal.