Opinion: Landsrecherche

POSTED: 11/12/11 7:22 AM

The landsrecherche has yet another interesting file on its desk: an order to investigate the circumstances surrounding the suicide of Robert Reid on October 24. Reid was detained as a suspect in the murder of his 13-year-old daughter Tiffany.

The prison has suspended the watch commander who worked the shift when Reid killed himself, but the guard has now taken legal action, saying that there were more guards on duty that night and that, besides, the prison director also has a responsibility.

From the top of our head, we could come up with a number of investigations the landsrecherche is, or should be, working on.

The first one is the vote-selling case, whereby two police officers and a VKS officer sold their vote ahead on the elections last year September for something like 4300 to the United People’s party of Vice Prime Minister Theo Heyliger.

The police prepared a file about this case for the prosecutor’s office, but the landsrecherche either had no time or no interest, and the case has been gathering dust ever since. Maybe such an investigation was too sensitive, if only because it would require looking at both sides of the story: the sellers and the buyer: the governing United People’s party. It could get Vice PM Heyliger and tourism Minister Franklin Meyers (the president of the party) in hot water, but as time goes by it becomes increasingly clear that nobody has anything to worry about.

Then there is the case of former Public Health Minister Maria Buncamper-Molanus. It is almost a year ago that this newspaper revealed how the minister and her husband Claudius fiddled with a piece of leased land on Pond Island that they had obtained in April 2008. In December of that year, they sold the economic ownership for $3 million to the bogus-company Eco-Green N.V. that had been established three days before the sale.

While the prosecutor’s office has stated repeatedly that there is a willingness to investigate possible criminal aspects of the case (opposition leader William Marlin has hinted at possible money laundering) so far nothing has happened. The Minister had to step down, making her the minister with the shortest career in country St. Maarten, but it now seems that she, too, has nothing to worry about anymore.

Then there is the investigation into embezzlement at the ‘Tourist Bureau. Interestingly, this involves the current director of the airport, Regina Labega, and former Tourism Commissioner and current independent MP Frans Richardson. The accusation, leveled by the fired head of the finance department Bas Roorda, is that Labega, Richardson and others dipped their hands in the cookie jar to help themselves to $300 a day compensation for business trips abroad while they were simply at home. In some cases the left later, or came back earlier than scheduled, but they still collected the day-compensation.

That seems to be a simple investigation, but we hear that such investigations become more complicated as they reach into higher levels of government.

Go figure, we just read that the financial supervisor Cft reported how the compiler of the country’s annual accounts was refused access to the systems at the Island Receiver on multiple occasions. And that compiler was just looking numbers. If his work is made impossible, how would this work with a criminal investigation that penetrates the bowels of the government organization?

And now the  landsrecherche has been charged with an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the suicide of a man who saw no other way out. Actually, the investigation is not about the victim, it is about the guards on duty and about the prison director.

One prison guard, the watch commander on duty, has been suspended, but everybody else walked away scot free from the tragic incident.

It is almost certain that others made mistakes, or failed to take the necessary precautionary measures.

What amazes us tremendously in the decree the suspended guard received is the following. In the first paragraph prison director Ricardo indicates that the investigation concludes that the guard probably committed serious neglect of duty.

This suggests that the result of the investigation was not conclusive. Yet, the guard was suspended. Now, the landsrecherche has the file on its desk. We wonder what priority it has: before or after Buncamper-Molanus?

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Comments (2)


  1. irie says:

    Excellent article.

    You know how at the end of each and every year the newspapers make a compilation of what has happened during the year? Usually the top headlines come into play.

    The Newspapers also have a section (not sure if they still do), Person of the Year.

    How about a new section. “Unresolved crime cases of the year”.
    This shortlist can contain:
    and the list goes on….

    Chances are, that is too sensitive and negative to publish at the end of December, so just move it up to the end of November, when X-mas is a month away.

  2. janni says:

    Thank you all ever so much for pursuing a number of issues that appear to dormant here on St. Maarten: The alleged vote-rigging & ‘Buncamper’ affair. They probably touch the core of attempting a fundamentally democratic community to an extent that all the brutally painfull murders & robberies don’t, -as horrific and awful as they truly are.
    I, for one, have wondered, from time to time, where the resolution to these allegations had gone…
    As a reader I have periodic issues with what I perceive as the ‘quality’ of your newspaper, but I have to say that I have the highest regard for your editorial’s courageous resurrection of these unresolved issues; -& by implication, of where and to whom the queries might further lead.
    This is good, conscientious, and socially motivated reporting.