St. Maarten’s Prosecutor’s Office to grow to 16 this year

POSTED: 05/17/11 12:17 PM

St. Maarten – Chief Public Prosecutor Hans Mos says more people will be added to the office in St. Maarten in the coming months as part of a concrete effort to grow the office in St. Maarten. Mos’ primary responsibility here is to grow the department according to a plan for St. Maarten, Curacao and Bonaire, Saba and St. Eustatius.
“We are supposed to grow to 19 or 20 people in total. That’s not just prosecutors, but also paralegals and administrative support. In the coming months we will see several people get added to take us to about 15 or 16 and then we see what balance we can find with that team before we move up to having 19,” Mos said Sunday on For the Record with Eddie Williams on Radio Soualiga 99.9 Choice F.M.
Implementation of the plan has been slow as only one additional prosecutor has been added since Mos arrived in 2009, but things are expected to happen faster now that the office has been renovated and taken over space once held by the Central Bureau of Statistics.
“That expansion gives three rooms and enough space to have more colleagues,” Mos said.
In his time Mos says he’s been able to build “a very strong relationship” with the police force, stating that his office is “nothing without the police.”
“Our office is somewhere in the middle of the law enforcement chain and we depend heavily on what the police present,” Mos said.
The chief public prosecutor is also pleased that his office and the police together with other investigating agencies have been able to find a cooperation that allows them to solve crimes, especially murders. When Mos arrived none of the eight murders committed in 2008 had been solved. In consultation with the police the decision was made to hand the files over to the RST. That led to two or three cases being solved. Confronted with a similar situation in 2009 Mos again decided to push for a joint team to investigate murders and that led to the solving of the Bumper Car murder and a trial in “record time.”
“The investigation on that Bumper Car murder took three weeks and we had the trial in three months. That’s a record. However the killing at Casa Blanca remains unsolved and we still have to solve the Afoo killing. For the latter I know we will solve it because I get the feeling that there is still information on the loose and that is why we have not solved it as yet,” Mos said.
The year 2010 is also a mixed bag of successes and the prosecutor’s office and the police are still reeling from the fact that they have not been able to solve the Julot murder as yet.
“That was a real blow to our confidence,” Mos said.
He added, “We believe though that strong and thorough cooperation between officers that will help us solve crime.”
One thing Mos is not happy about is the fact that he’s not been able to thoroughly build up a system of victim aid where his office provides people injured by crime the opportunity to get information or use their legal rights to launch civil claims against perpetrators.
“We don’t do enough for victims of crime and I think we have to pay attention to the victims as well. This way we can build a good basis of trust and maybe these people will help us with other investigations in the future. I’m not proposing that we become counselors, but that we explain the procedures of the court and what can be reasonably expected when the trial is held, because very often people do not fully understand what these procedures and are surprised when certain things happen in court,” Mos said.
The chief prosecutor is also not happy that the trust between the public and the police is not stronger and has called on the community to give the force another chance. He’s also asked them to understand that the force is short of 55 officers needed to provide the required level of surveillance.
“We need information from the public. We need them to make witness statements. I get the feeling that people expect us to find the jigsaw pieces and create the picture, but it’s that the public needs to give us the jigsaw pieces so that we can create the picture. The public cannot continue to carry past incidents against the police. They will have to give trust to the police,” Mos said.

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