Vote buying case heads back to court — No proof of class justicePOSTED: 05/7/15 1:16 PM
St. Maarten – The vote buying case, commonly called the “Masbangu case” was referred back to the Court of first instance by the Court of Appeal in a verdict rendered yesterday. The case was dismissed by the Court of First Instance when the judge ruled that trying the persons who allegedly sold their votes and not trying the person to whom they are accused of selling their votes smacked of class justice.
The case concerns charges brought against four persons who were accused of selling their votes to the UP in 2010 and were brought before a judge in 2012, following which the case was postponed and continued on August 24th of last year, just after the 2014 elections. Back in August of 2014, Judge C.T. M Luijks in his judgment said the entire case was inadmissible. The Judge felt that the prosecutor should go after the Leader of the United Peoples Party Theodore Heyliger as he holds the leadership of the party. At the time Judge Luijks made the now famous statement of class justice on St. Maarten.
In a statement to the media following the ruling, the prosecutor’s office stated,” in the case of the ballot box fraud in Sint Maarten the public Prosecutor’s Office was earlier declared inadmissible by the Court of first instance. It concerns the case against the suspects R.C.H.J. (1951), C.J.L.C. (1969), R.H. (1953) and A.R.W.M. (1970), suspected of having sold their vote (election fraud) during the last elections. Referring to the principle of equality and the prohibition of arbitrariness, the Court of first instance found that the prosecution lost its right to prosecute, since the role of the leadership of the UP was not sufficiently investigated. The Court of Appeal today (yesterday) has not revealed inconsistent with the principle of equality, the prohibition of arbitrariness or class justice. The judgments of the Court of first instance therefore are destroyed by the Court and the cases are referred back to the Court in the first instance.”
Present in the court room on Tuesday, were R. Heyliger’s lawyer Shaira Bommel, Cernick Carolina, Robert James and Ashwin Martina who appeared stunned after hearing the verdict from the judge. The defendants will be re-tried for their involvement in the case.
R Heyliger. told investigators that he was accountable to party leader Theo Heyliger when he gave money to one of the suspects on September 16, 2010. “In the opinion of the court it is therefore incomprehensible that no effort was made to invite Theo Heyliger for an interrogation to the office of the National Detective Agency,” the judge in the Court of First Instance said following last year’s trial. The court ruling in 2014 quotes from information gathered by the CIE (Criminal Intelligence Unit) that indicates that Theo Heyliger deposited $3 million from his own money into the election coffers of the UP in 2010. “Several statements in the dossier imply that the UP was busy distributing money from a building at the Ground Dove Road in Pointe Blanche. The prosecutor also assumes that the (leadership of) the UP party has given money, by naming the suspect Roy H. in the summons as representative of the UP.”
The suspects have two weeks to challenge the appeals court decision. The prosecutor’s office said last night that no decision has been made as yet on whether the prosecution will investigate Member of Parliament Theodore Heyliger for his supposed involvement in the case.