MP Laville about double murder in Cupecoy: “This does not represent who we are as St. Maarteners”

POSTED: 09/25/12 2:17 PM

St. Maarten – The double murder of American tourist couple Michael and Thelma King last Friday has damaged the island’s image as a safe tourist destination but in no way represents the people of St. Maarten, says Vice-President of parliament Romain Laville, who in an invited comment, condemned crime perpetrated against tourists and residents alike.

“I think there has been a significant damage. We have a very fragile economy on St.Maarten,” Laville said, adding that a study may perhaps have to be done, to scientifically prove  the effects the homicides have had or will have on the economy.

“This does not represent who we are as St. Maarteners. We are always known to be the Friendly Island and a people of compassion and love. I understand the importance of having certain news published and I was saddened to see the heading on the front pages. Any loss of life sends a bad signal,” the parliamentarian believes.

Over the weekend, the government, police, political leaders and tourism officials have all issued statements on the slayings which took place at the secluded Ocean Club Villas and Residence Inn. However, the Parliament of St.Maarten has remained largely mum on the issue.

On Monday, Laville said that President of Parliament drs. Rodolphe Samuels is off-island and he (Laville) personally took an interest in the case by reaching out to the police department and offering support. He’s hoping that law enforcement authorities will find the culprit(s) and bring them to justice as swiftly as possible.

Thus far, the Public Prosecutor’s Office has confirmed that a male suspect was taken into custody following an operation in the Cay Bay area around 4:00 am on Sunday. It is yet unclear what role he played, if any in the murders, but he is expected to be arraigned before the Judge of Instruction on Wednesday.

In the meantime, Laville has called on the entire society to be more cautious on public statements that are being made about the brutal slayings that can be easily accessed via the internet.

“We have to be sensitive and have a sense of responsibility. We are a tourist designated island; we do not have any other form of industry on this island. I could imagine some of the reactions tourists would feel towards what they are hearing and reading.”

Laville also responded to criticisms from certain sections of society that all branches of government are giving more attention to the murders because of the nationality of the victims.

“Any type of crime whether you are tourist or local ought to be condemned. When our Minister of Justice, on the floor of parliament brought a proposal for stiffer penalties against those who commit crimes on tourists I was one of those who spoke out against it. I said no, I do not agree. There is no way that I would want to have a stiffer penalty for someone that is visiting and then our people are being killed and slaughtered every single day. It must have a balance.  I believe the minister did it in good faith. If there is a law that has to come, it must be universal.”

In August 2011, Justice Minister Roland Duncan proposed stiffer penalties against tourists as a part of the new Criminal Code. That piece of legislation is still to be signed by the governor. Some parliamentarians openly rejected it last year on the grounds of discrimination.

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MP Laville about double murder in Cupecoy: “This does not represent who we are as St. Maarteners” by

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