Opinion: No good news for Laveist

POSTED: 10/26/11 11:37 AM

The Supreme Court has re-opened the prosecution of parliamentarian Louie Laveist by voiding the February 11, 2010 ruling that found Laveist guilty of bribery. Because the Common Court of Justice failed to include the evidence in the verdict (instead, it was submitted as an appendix) the Supreme Court had no other option than to void it. That does not mean that Laveist is now home Common Court will have to handle his appeal all over again.

That is not necessarily good news for Laveist.

This is why.
The Court in First Instance sentenced Laveist on April 28, 2009 to 18 months of imprisonment; 9 months were suspended. The court also imposed a 5,000 guilder fine, and banned Laveist for 5 years from functions in the civil service and the Executive Council.

The appeals court however, made the prison sentence completely conditional, because investigators put Laveist under structural observation for a period of almost two weeks (between April 21 and May 5, 2008). There was (and is) no legal basis for the use of structural observation. The appeals court ruled that considering the length and the intensity of the structural observation and the resulting violation of privacy are irreparable procedure violations. This argument kept Laveist out of prison.

Now that the Common Court gets to do the trial again, the structural observation argument may also come under fire again; at least, it will have to be considered again by the court, and there is no way of knowing how the three judges will weight it this time.

In other words, Laveist’s decision to take his verdict to the Supreme Court could potentially laparkan.com/buy-vardenafil/ cost him, in the sense that a renewed attack by the solicitor-general on the structural observation issue could have a different outcome. If that happens, Laveist might be looking at real time behind bars.

Obviously, the case will not end with the new trial in the Common Court of Justice. First of all, it still has to be put on the agenda, and that may very well not happen until early next year. If the ruling is negative for Laveist, he will most likely take it back to the Supreme Court

It took 622 days from the time of the verdict on February 11 of last year until the Supreme Court ruling on October 25, almost 21 months. If the Common Court rehashes the Laveist trial in January of next year, the Supreme Court could come up with its final ruling sometime around October 2013. That’s about five years after Laveist was arrested by officers of the national detective agency. By that time, even Laveist may have forgotten what the case was all about.

There is also a discussion about the question whether Laveist is allowed to remain in his seat in the parliament. As far as we know, this position is not affected by any verdict, though not everybody agrees with this point of view. The bribery-case may be old, but it is not forgotten, and the implications are a staunch warning to others to refrain from committing similar crimes. We can well imagine that Laveist is now wishing that he had accepted his verdict on appeal – but it’s too late for that now.

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