Parliament struggles with Matser situation

POSTED: 03/7/16 11:20 AM

St. Maarten News – The parliament has not yet reconvened the budget meeting that was halted on Wednesday. The parliament’s president said that the meeting would have to be reconvened within fourteen days.

This applies to a meeting that was adjourned and then reconvened – as was the case with the budget meeting.

On Monday the faction leaders will meet to find a solution for the impasse.

Wescot-Williams said that the arrest of MP Matser calls for his suspension once he enters the pretrial detention phase – if it would ever come to that. In that case, Matser is suspended from parliament by law.

“For the temporary solution, the central voting bureau would have to be notified,” Wescot-Williams said. “The question is: by whom; the chairperson of parliament or the court?”

Another issue is the length of the pretrial detention. “If it is only for two days, by the time you start the process for temporary replacement, the detention could be terminated or suspended.”

Wescot-Williams added that first it must be established that Matser is in pretrial detention as meant in article 50 of the constitution.

This is however simple: after the first six hours being held up for interrogation, two days of police custody (inverzekeringstelling) follow. That term ended yesterday afternoon at 3.15 p.m. What follows is a (possible) extension of the police custody by eight days, the term that is currently underway and that will end next week Saturday at 3.15.

(That is to say, if the Judge of Instruction extended the detention which is likely but not certain due to a lack of information).

When those eight days are up and the court decides to place Matser in pre-trial detention (bewaring) the situation occurs as indicated in the constitution. From that moment on he will be suspended by law as a Member of Parliament. The first term of pretrial detention is also eight days; it can be extended once by eight days; after that follows the option of imprisonment for 60 days a term that can be extended twice by 30 days.

Wescot-Williams said that she has sought legal advice on who should act first in such a situation. “This has never been acted on before and what we do now or not will set a precedent for the future. So it must be airtight.”

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