Opinion: Not over yet

POSTED: 10/14/11 12:29 PM

Justice Bob Wit, the honorable president of our Constitutional Court, had some good news yesterday: the doors are far from closed on the discussion about the constitutionality of the ordinance on the prosecution of politicians that the last Island Council approved last year without even spending a second on debating its content.
The Bar Association has asked the office of the Ombudsman in vain to take the ordinance before the Constitutional Court, but the Ombudsman found formal reasons that made this course of action impossible. True or not, attorneys have been griping about this decision for quite some time, because they consider the ordinance discriminating and unconstitutional.
All we need, Justice Wit mused yesterday, is a concrete case. He did not elaborate on what a concrete case is, but we are pretty sure that a politician who gets caught with his hands in the national cookie jar would qualify.
In other words, we need a case whereby a politician is suspected of committing a crime –be it murder, embezzlement, forgery or bribery – that isn’t really relevant. The case of former Public Health Minister Maria Buncamper-Molanus does not come into the picture, because – if there is going to be a criminal investigation at all – it deals with facts that took place before the ordinance went into effect.
The accusations that have now been leveled against Finance Minister Hiro Shigemoto though (about violating the Kingdom law on Financial Supervision) could do the trick, but only if the Prosecutor’s Office has indications that a crime could have been committed. We’re not there yet, of course, and Shigemoto will have ample time in court in November 9 to counter the accusation, but it is at least a beginning.
If such a case goes to court, Justice Wit argues, it is possible for the prosecution to challenge the ordinance that now so comfortably protects politicians against criminal prosecution. That is when things will get interesting, and then we will learn whether this controversial ordinance is able to withstand legal scrutiny.
We heard on Monday that some members of parliament are unable to sleep these days, and this remark by Justice Wit might just add a few more sleepless nights.

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