St. Maarten Police needed military help because of Carnival, Minister Hillen saysPOSTED: 04/28/11 11:30 AM
St. Maarten – “Military assistance during the investigations of the three murders that occurred in the beginning of March to place “during the Carnival and the largest event in St. Maarten, the Heineken Regatta,” defense Minister Hans Hillen wrote in answer to questions posed by VVD parliamentarian Andre Bosman last week. The murders occurred on February 26 and on March 4 and 5, in the regatta weekend, and the military helped look for evidence for a couple of hours on March 8. Carnival only started for real last Monday.
Bosman had asked the Minister for an explanation about the shortage of police officers in St. Maarten. “Up to what point is the St. Maarten police currently able to fulfill its tasks adequately in a way that the safety of the population is not at risk?” he asked.
Hillen answered that the shortage is the result of “an accidental combination of several circumstances and public events that required the deployment of police.”
Not only was police capacity required for the homicide investigations, but also for several rape cases, the minister stated. “During that period the Carnival and the largest manifestation in St. Maarten, the Heineken regatta, took place.”
Hillen said that due to the understaffing, agreements have been made about the minimum strength of the police force for 2011. “
The plan of approach for the police takes those agreements into consideration. The plan of approach is currently carried out and there are regular progress reports by the progress committee. The committee’s first report is expected soon and the Second Chamber will be informed about it.”
Hillen stated in his answers that the Governor of St. Maarten, Drs. Eugène Holiday had requested military assistance to support the police investigations. “Twenty military from the Hr. Ms. Rotterdam have been deployed for evidence investigation related to four recent murders. For this type of crime it is very important to secure evidence as soon as possible. The deployment of the military has contributed to a successful conclusion to the investigation,” Hillen wrote.
The Minister revealed that the military deployment lasted five and a half hours, from eight o’clock in the morning on Friday March 8 until one thirty.
The Minister explained in answer to further questions by Bosman that the military operated under the supervision of Chief Commissioner Peter de Witte, and of the prosecutor involved in the investigations. “Searching for evidence took place under the direct supervision and with instructions of the police. The instructions had to do with recognizing and handling evidence. Because of the assignment’s character the military were deployed unarmed and without violence instructions.”
The deployment of the military in St. Maarten was financed through the Fund Financing National Deployment Armed forces, Hillen stated.