Prosecution asks court’s okay to prosecute MP Patrick Illidge

POSTED: 12/18/13 11:53 AM

St. Maarten / By Hilbert Haar – The Public Prosecutor’s Office has asked the Common Court of Justice for permission to prosecute independent MP Patrick Illidge, a suspect in the Bada Bing bribery-investigation. The court handled the request yesterday afternoon in chambers at the courthouse in Philipsburg. The initiative by the prosecutor’s office makes clear that there is a firm intention to prosecute Illidge.

The national ordinance for the prosecution of politicians decrees that prosecution of a politician is only possible at the orders of the Common Court of Justice, at the request of the solicitor-general.

Abiding by article 5 of the ordinance, the court heard Illidge’s side of the story yesterday. mr. Ralph Richardson is Illidge’s attorney in this case. The lodge was not obliged to answer questions from the court, but since the procedure took place behind closed doors it is not possible to establish what went down yesterday afternoon. It is “not done” to release information about these internal procedural court hearings, though the decision from the court is public.

Solicitor-General Taco Stein said yesterday that, again based on the ordinance, that the court will take a decision as soon as possible. “I do not expect a ruling on the same day or even the next day,” he said.

Illidge and his attorney were entitled access to documents relevant to the investigation. The ordinance makes several exceptions to this rule. The court is authorized to decide that Illidge cannot see certain documents if protecting someone’s privacy requires this and when seeing certain documents could hamper the investigation.

The court has the option, if it deems this necessary, to refer the case to the Judge of Instruction for further investigation before taking a decision about prosecuting Illidge.

The members of the court that take the decision about prosecuting do not take part in the court case in first instance or on appeal.

Patrick Illidge is the first politician to whom the national ordinance for the prosecution of politicians applies.

In March, a video surfaced on the internet showing how Illidge receives a large amount of money, probably $15,000, from Bada Bing owner Jaap van den Heuvel. The investigation focuses on the possible bribery-aspect of the case, but both Van den Heuvel and Illidge have maintained that the exchange of money had to do with a loan.

Van den Heuvel also told this newspaper shortly after the video surfaced that he had made the footage at the request of UP-leader Theo Heyliger. The objective was reportedly to upset Illidge and bring down the government.

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