“He said this is discrimination – they wanted a black candidate” Outrage about treatment candidate-notary De Vries

POSTED: 05/23/14 9:06 PM

St. Maarten – Family and friends are outraged about the way notary Henri Parisius and Justice Minister Dennis Richardson have dealt with the late candidate-notary Lars de Vries, who took his own life last Friday.

Jeanette Warmerdam, a close friend of De Vries spent a vacation in St. Maarten in April. De Vries told her at that time that he was living in great uncertainty about his future.

“Parisius let Lars know verbally that the notary’s practice would be his after his retirement. Lars told me this, and a verbal agreement is also an agreement.”

But shortly before the first of May, De Vries was told unceremoniously to leave. Warmerdam: “He was told to get his things and get out of the office. He did not even get the opportunity to say goodbye to his colleagues. He had to give back his car immediately, even though they knew that he had an artificial leg. This is scandalous, they did not have the decency to let him know this a bit more in advance.”

Lars de Vries was acutely aware of the forces that blocked his way to an independent notary practice. Warmerdam: “He told me that it was discrimination, that they wanted somebody from the island. They want a black candidate, he said.”

Warmerdam is outraged about the decision Justice Minister Dennis Richardson took to ignore the Common Court of Justice’s recommendation to appoint her friend. “I have been reading back the Skype conversations we had during the last ten days,” she says. “He was confused, and he did not know what his future was going to look like. He worked very hard at Parisius’ office. Parisius was very often not there and Lars did most of the work. It is very ill-mannered what they did. Parisius and the minister have played a game, they have cooked this up. There ought to be a punishment for this. How can they hurt someone so badly?”

Frank de Vries called the Tamarind Hotel on Friday and asked manager Paul Ingram to get his brother on the phone. When Ingram went to convey the message, he saw through the sliding doors of unit #37 that Lars had hanged himself – a bit more than two weeks after he had been unceremoniously removed from the notary office. His brother flew to St. Maarten the next day.

Jeanette Warmerdam declined to make her Skype-conversations with De Vries available for publication – their content is simply too painful for public display. She did one thing, however, to honor the memory of her friend: “I sent an email to Henri Parisius and I gave him a piece of my mind.”

One odd detail came to light after the weekend when it appeared that some of De Vries’ personal belongings were missing, like his laptop and his phone. Police spokesman Inspector Ricardo Henson did not immediately have pertinent information available about these items yesterday, but he promised to check this detail with the detectives that handled the situation at the Tamarind Hotel last Friday.

Comments on Facebook, where attorney Roeland Zwanikken published an In Memoriam that also appeared on Today’s Opinion page, support the notion that Lars de Vries became the victim of a great injustice. Will Johnson, from Saba, for instance remarked, “(I) know the background and (it) is shameful that he did not get the position. If I had put him in that position that he had taken his life I would never be able to sleep anymore.”

Most reactions testify of the intense sadness people feel about this tragedy. Attorney Geert Hatzmann added another angle: “Some people will have to look in the mirror and (they) need to explain their actions.”


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