MP Patrick Illidge remains in custody 8: more days of questioning

POSTED: 01/24/14 3:15 PM

St. Maarten – Chief Public Prosecutor Taco Stein confirmed yesterday that independent Member of Parliament (MP) Patrick illidge has been detained for a further 8 days of interrogation in his involvement in what appears to be a case of bribery by Bada Bing nightclub owner Jaap van den Heuvel over the issuance of work permits for foreign exotic dancers. He is also charged with money laundering and taking part in an organization with criminal intent.

Illidge appeared before a judge yesterday as the prosecution requested an extension on his detainment by law enforcement officials. The judge agreed with the prosecution’s desire to hold Illidge for some time more.

Illidge’s lawyer, former Lt. Governor Ralph Richardson, also confirmed that his client would be detained longer, and he elaborated on the procedures of the law which he felt have been wrongly interpreted by the media in general and by the public. In a discussion with Today, Richardson explained that MP Illidge is not obliged to give up his seat because of this current extension.

“You have to read the constitution well,” he said thoughtfully. Illidge appeared before the judge yesterday and not on Wednesday as was wrongly reported, because even though the 48 hours allowed to hold him expired on Wednesday at 3 pm (he was detained on Monday at 3 pm), the prosecution has 24 hours to take their case before a judge for an additional 8 more days, which they exercised yesterday morning at around 10 am. Richardson referred to this as the “prosecutor’s 8 days.”

The confusion lies in the fact that there is an additional 8 days that a suspect can be held for further interrogation (“prosecutor’s 8 days,” then a request for an additional 8). Should that be the case, then MP Illidge would be obliged, according to Richardson, as per the constitution, to relinquish his seat in Parliament to a “substitute,” though he would still receive his salary as an MP until that period runs out.

Because a situation like this has never happened before, the substitute would most likely be the next highest vote getting candidate on the list Illidge ran on in the 2010 elections, the National Alliance. That substitute would probably be Sylveria Jacobs, former Minister of Education, who would serve out Illidge’s remaining term as an MP.

This is all unprecedented, Richardson explained. “It’s new for all of us,” since it has never been tested under St. Maarten’s infant democracy and constitution. Illidge’s pre-trial detention period, therefore, would start if an additional 8 days are granted before he goes to trial. The state can then request an additional 60 days as it builds its case, MP Illidge, Richardson said, would only be dismissed from Parliament if he is condemned in a court of law for crimes committed against the state.

Prosecutor Stein said that the only reason Illidge is seen not wearing handcuffs exiting the court house was because “we don’t consider him a flight risk.” Handcuffs are not mandatory for suspects under investigation. Illidge was taken back into custody in a Landsrecherche vehicle.

Iilidge will remain in custody until he is brought before the court again to decide if he must remain in custody or go free until his trail at a later date.

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