Chief Prosecutor Mos leaves St. Maarten: “Not all crimes can be prosecuted”

POSTED: 06/14/13 12:29 PM

St. Maarten – “It has been a unique experience being part of the process of St. Maarten becoming a country within the Kingdom,” Chief Prosecutor Hans Mos said yesterday at his farewell reception at the Pasanggrahan Hotel on Front Street. Mos will become investigation-officer in Utrecht after his term in St. Maarten ends per August 1. “I do not leave with a feeling of satisfaction,” he told the gathering that included amongst others his wife Micheline, his daughter Bobby, Attorney-General Dick Piar, Governor Eugène Holiday, Chief Commissioner Peter de Witte and staff from the prosecutor’s office. Later, outgoing Justice Minister Roland Tuitt also stopped by.

“Be assured we will always do our utmost,” Mos said. “But in doing so, much still will remain to be done.” He said that the prosecutor’s office in St. Maarten does not differ in this respect from similar offices elsewhere. “Not all crimes can be prosecuted due to sheer lack of capacity in the total chain of law enforcement. Priorities have to be set. My office together with the police force and other law enforcement agencies do this all the time.”

That the Chief Prosecutor does not leave with a feeling of satisfaction, he said, is due to the fact that there are “still too many cases that should have been addressed earlier. Due to the lack of manpower either on the police level or in my office they could not be investigated. I am very aware that this frustrates many. It frustrates me just as much. Wanting to tackle crime but not being able to, brings feelings of frustration.”

Mos said that all this is part of the process of becoming a country. “Some judge this young country as if it were fully grown. That is not only unfair but it also does not show much insight in the position St. Maarten had at the start.”

Mos noted that country St. Maarten kicked off on 10-10-10 “with so little being well organized: insufficient cell capacity, inhumane police cells, a highly understaffed police force and customs organization, no financial intelligence unit, no National Detectives Agency.”

In spite of this, the chief prosecutor pointed out, “everyone, both inside and outside the nation, expected law enforcement to instantly deal with local corruption, high murder rates, large-scale money laundering, human trafficking, fraud, international organized crime and all domestic plagues such as armed robberies, burglaries and car theft. Those expectations were, and still are, too high. We still have to set priorities.”

Mos put homicide at the top of the list when he arrived from Aruba in St. Maarten in 2009. Not solving murders would create the impression that the police are unable to touch killers. “This perception has dramatically changed over the past years,” Mos said. He referred to the successful conclusion of three investigations: Regatta, Vesuvius and Ocean.

“In the Vesuvius-case hardened criminals, of whom the public thought that we would never get them behind bars, were convicted. It is a fact that since they have been convicted, more peace and quiet has come to the nation. Unlike in the past, no one is untouchable any longer.”

Mos praised the police force in his address: “during these investigations the local police force has grown to such a level that they were practically able to solve the horrible crimes in the Ocean-investigation on their own.”

Mos concluded that St. Maarten’s law enforcement machinery has come from far. “Slowly and gradually law enforcement is moving in the right direction. It will take time. I call upon those who follow us critically to give us credit and trust to become a fully grown law enforcement chain. Once that is achieved, one can adjust the expectations.”

The chief prosecutor said that he had been asked to stay longer on the job in St. Maarten but that he had decided not to accept the offer. “It is good that a new captain will be called to the helm and steer the prosecutor’s office along a new and fresh course, finding opportunities and paths that I did not see or was unable to find. A fresh chief will be a benefit to the organization.”

Mos added that Sweet St. Maarten has a place in his heart and that of his family. “We wish this beautiful land all the best. Most of all, we wish awareness amongst those in command of the nation and those who put them in those positions that the beauty of this island is its most precious asset. Wheeling and dealing with that natural beauty for financial gain will in the end be the greatest threat to this island nation. We hope this country will be spared for this horrible phenomenon called greed, being a capitalist version of Hurricane Luis.”

Solicitor-General Taco Stein said in a brief address that he regrets Mos’ departure. “You were the last Chef de Poste of St. Maarten, the first acting chief prosecutor of the Netherlands Antilles and also the first chief prosecutor of country St. Maarten.” Next to that, Mos functions as press officer and investigation-officer.

Under Mos’ command, Stein said, the prosecutor’s office expanded from a staff of 6 to 14. He also highlighted the successes in the Vesuvius, Regatta and Ocean investigations. “These crimes shocked the people in St. Maarten and abroad. Together with your team you handled those cases in a professional but also in a humane manner.”

Stein quipped that Mos “can stand tall” for what he achieved during his term. “That must be easy with your length. You are the tallest person in St. Maarten.”

Mos will now go on vacation with his family and return to the island in July to clean out his desk and to wrap up loose ends.

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