Roorda’s attorney asks court to hear Shigemoto and Duncan

POSTED: 05/10/11 12:46 PM

St. Maarten / By Hilbert Haar – The Bas Roorda case is not ready to go to court yet. Yesterday, Roorda’s attorney mr. Maarten Le Poole asked the court to hear several witnesses first. Judge mr. D.M. Thierry will rule on the request on May 23. Le Poole wants to hear Finance Minister Hiro Shigemoto, Justice Minister Roland Duncan and two civil servants – Sherry Hazel and Cassandra Janssen – plus his own client.

Roorda was fired as the head of the Finance Department on March 31 after what must have been a tumultuous meeting of the Council of Ministers. Roorda says that he was fired because he filed a complaint about embezzlement at the Tourist Bureau with the office of the public prosecutor. The government maintains that Roorda violated his oath of secrecy. The attorney for the government, mr. Richard Gibson Jr. opposed the hearing of witnesses yesterday.

Le Poole told the court that the reason his client wishes to hear witnesses is that he wants clarity about the reason for his dismissal. “Statements made by the government and the text of the dismissal letter, that mentions the violation of the oath of secrecy, have cause confusion,” Le Poole said.

The attorney said that in the Council of Ministers meeting on March 31 the only topic of conversation was Roorda’s intention to report crimes to the office of the public prosecutor. “Then Roorda reads in the newspaper that it is about something else. Duncan mentioned insubordination, and according to Finance Minister Shigemoto he had talked to the board for financial supervision Cft causing embarrassment to the minister.”

“Roorda says that the reason for his dismissal is the fact that he went to the office of the public prosecutor with his discoveries. If he is able to prove this, then the reason for his dismissal is invalid. My client argues that those reasons are false or pretended and this results in unreasonable dismissal.”

mr. Gibson maintained that the dismissal was simply based on violating the oath of secrecy. “Roorda says that the government has attempted to stop him from filing a complaint, but this is not so. There are no facts that still have to be proven. What is certain is that Roorda did not inform the Finance Minister about what he was doing. He has given information to the Cft (apparently about pension premiums – ed.) and he does not deny this.”

Gibson also said that Justice Minister Duncan had not attempted to stop Roorda from filing a complaint. The reason for the termination of his contract has been told to him. He has no right to hear a large number of ministers and civil servants. That is abuse of due process.” In case the court decides to allow hearing witnesses, Gibson said, he asks the court to let this take place behind closed doors.”

Judge Thierry wondered aloud about what had happened on March 31. “There was a Council of Ministers meeting and they said to Roorda: We disagree with your intention to file a complaint with the prosecutor’s office, but we are not able to stop you. On the same day he was fired. And one does not have anything to do with the other?”

“No,” mr. Gibson replied, but Le Poole pointed out that there were more statements made in that meeting. “They said, we are unable to stop you, but if you do that, then this is the end of the exercise.”

Roorda left the island a week after his dismissal after he received advice that his personal safety could be at risk. He is scheduled to come back to the island this week, because the court hearing was originally planned for this Friday, May 13. But with the request to hear witnesses under consideration, that court hearing will have to wait a bit.

The office of the public prosecutor confirmed after Roorda’s departure to the Netherlands that the National Detective Agency (the Landsrecherche) has taken on the investigation into the complaints filed by Roorda. It concerns twelve cases of embezzlement at the Tourist Bureau that involves employees at the Tourist Bureau and one politician. Justice Minister Duncan later confirmed that the politician in question if former Commissioner and now Member of Parliament for the National Alliance Frans Richardson.

While the investigation is under way, employees at the Tourist Bureau and Richardson remain under suspicion, though if the case ever goes to court, a judge will have to decide about guilt or innocence.

 

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