Masbangu investigation scheduled for retrial on August 31

Gino Bernadina Spokesman for the Public Prosecutor Office

PHILIPSBURG – The court hearing in the investigation involving buying and selling of votes on behalf of the United People’s (UP) party during the September 17, 2010 election, called “Masbangu,” will take place on August 31.

The suspects, (former) officers of the then-Police Force of St. Maarten, St. Eustatius and Saba (KPSM) and of the Voluntary Corps of St. Maarten (VKS), R.C.H.J., C.C. and A.R.W., who are suspected of selling their votes and R.H. suspected of buying the votes (mediating in the sale), have been notified that they should appear in Court of First Instance on the above mentioned date for the criminal proceedings.

The Court of First Instance ruled the Prosecutor’s Office’s cases against these men inadmissible in August 2014, because it had failed to also investigate the roles of UP and its leadership in the scheme. The Prosecutor’s Office appealed against this verdict and the Joint Court of Justice on May 5, 2015 quashed the ruling of the Court of First Instance and referred the Masbangu investigation back to the Court of First Instance for retrial.

The suspects subsequently lodged an appeal to the Supreme Court in The Hague against the ruling of the Joint Court of Justice. Despite reminders of the Supreme Court, however, the suspects did not submit grounds for their appeal and therefore the Supreme Court in its decision rendered on March 15, 2016 ruled the suspects inadmissible in their appeal.

Hence, the case is at the Court of First Instance since March 15, and the hearing is scheduled to take place on August 31.