Forty percent of 2012 criminal investigations still pendingPOSTED: 06/26/13 12:39 PM
St. Maarten – The Public Prosecutor’s Office recorded 592 criminal cases in 2012, of which 393 were handled. The remaining 239 cases are “work in stock” – investigations that still have to be completed – and represent 40 percent of the total number of cases. “That is higher than the standard of 30 percent,” the office writes in its 2012 annual report.
The most important explanations for this shortfall is that secretary of the prosecutor’s office was out for 60 percent of the year while also several prosecutors left while others came in. Executing the BOB-legislation (for special investigation competencies) also added to the workload.
Crimes against property topped the list of registered crimes with 286. Within this category are 91 armed robberies. Violent crimes like murder, manslaughter and ill-treatment are the second largest group with 216. The prosecutor’s office registered 18 sex-crimes, 46 drugs-cases and 74 firearm violations. Other crimes total 211; this included 48 cases of forgery and 60 cases of threats. The figures include crimes in Saba and Statia, so with 851 the total is higher than the number mentioned earlier in this article.
In 51 cases the prosecutor’s office dropped the investigation for technical reasons. In these cases there was no evidence, the prosecutor’s office was inadmissible or someone had been incorrectly named a suspect. Based on policy-arguments another 18 investigations were dropped. There were also 91 conditional dismissals, whereby suspects paid a fine.
The prosecutor’s office took 246 cases to court in 2012, 31 more than the year before. Of the seven registered traffic crimes, 2 went to court.
The police reported 2,163 traffic violations to the Court in First Instance, but there was a problem: “While the police produced significantly more than before, it appeared that the so-called Control Unit was not able to write summons-reports for traffic violations during a significant part of 2012 because the members were not designated as extraordinary police officers.”
The prosecutor’s office noted an increase in international requests for judicial assistance. In 2008 there were just 65, a year later 61, and in 2010, 85. In 2011 the number jumped to 141 and last year the trend continued upwards to 174. Of this total, 106 requests came from foreign countries, while St. Maarten sent out 68 requests for judicial assistance.
“Managing the judicial assistance portfolio takes a large part out of the day for the responsible prosecutor, because requests for judicial assistance lead to quite some investigative work,” the report states, adding that the prosecutor’s office has no grip on the number of incoming requests for help.