OPEN LETTER TO OUR HONORABLE MINISTER OF JUSTICE MR. LYNDON C.J. LEWIS 

1680

 

It is with great admiration that the people of Sint Maarten are experiencing the vigor which you put in your work for this country and it is therefore that we believe that you have the courage to take eventual unpopular decisions if needed. 

For the last few years Sint Maarten has experienced some brutal murder cases, most of which remain unsolved and as an officer of the law yourself, this is a disturbing factor. One reason for this might be the shortage of staff to conduct a proper investigation and the tools available for such. But then, I ask myself how come for certain investigation, yes there is the cooperation of the RST and TBO and others that do assist our police force, the KPSM. 

On May 31, 2024 a marechaussee was attacked and killed during a robbery in his home in Curacao. He was an active member of the KMAR and operating on full duty on the island of Curacao. This news sent shockwaves in Curacao, Holland and the rest of the Kingdom countries and a massive investigation started to apprehend the culprits. A press conference was held by the Chief of Police and The Chief Prosecutor that relayed the incident and the general public was requested to cooperate with the investigation in providing tips, all in effort to catch the culprits.

Naturally, Holland police offered to help with the investigation and a group of officers arrived in Curacao to assist with the investigation. Just a few days after the incident, raids were carried out and different house searches took place. Seven days after the incident one suspect gave himself up to the police followed by one or two more arrests before another suspect gave up himself to the police. A group of four suspects are now in police custody and with more arrests to follow according to the police.

Now this. On May 29, 2022 Mrs. Lelia Manning-Henry was murdered in her family home in Point Blanche during an early morning burglary that cost the life of this 86-year-old lady, a wife of a former judge of instruction. In the Daily Herald of July 5, 2023 and more than a year after the incident, the Manning family calls on the community to get the murder resolved. The family called on the community to help prevent this murder investigation from becoming a cold case, as the many other murder cases according to me.

But it is not to the community to resolve murder cases, but the duty of the well paid investigators under the leadership of a well-paid Chief Detective, Delano Baptist. I have seen in the news that he was last promoted by your predecessor. Seriously? Sint Maarten has some killers on the loose and the Chief Detective is promoted? What were the criteria used for his promotion? 

 

It is curious to know if a special team of detectives was assigned with the investigation of the murder of the wife of the former judge of instruction. Did the Chief of Police, Carl John request any assistance from the RST or any other special team of detectives from Aruba or Curacao or even Holland, since he travels regularly to meet with his counter-part of these islands? Or maybe he did not see the need or importance to do such? But look how fast a killing of a member of the KMAR is resolved.

It is a blatant shame that in a small community residing on a 16 square miles’ piece of land (Sint Maarten), to have so many unsolved murder cases. It clearly proves the incompetence of the Chief of Police and his Chief Detective. The people of this country deserve a safe place to live and if a murder case of a marechaussee in Curacao can be resolved within days in Curacao, then the people of Sint Maarten demand the same. There are shootings and killings in Sint Maarten every weekend. Yet we do not see that the police conduct house searches, raids and/or massive controls to find weapons. 

There is this group of people that took mortgages to purchase their dream house in the hills of Cole Bay only to be surprised with an unfinished project and a developer on the run. Many of them went to court and got a verdict that they cannot be executed. Do you know what it is to pay for a mortgage for 10 years, 15 years or 20 years and not be able to have the property? Many of them filed charges against the developer, Mr. Dwain Carbon, long before he left the island. The detective’s department failed to address the matter in a timely manner. 

For the last few years I have heard that complaints were filed with the detective department against Ms. Lisa Alexander for fraud. Yet, when at last she was arrested a few weeks ago, and the many victims thought that they saw justice served, a detective went and lobbied for her release and so the fraudster was released the same day of her arrest. Is this a matter of class justice?

Needless to say, something is terribly wrong within the Detective department.

It is my humble opinion that it may be high time for you as Minister of Justice and as such also responsible for the law and order as well as justice in general, in close collaboration with the Chief Public Prosecutor, to look into the open and unresolved (murder) cases in Sint Maarten. If assistance is needed from the other sister islands, then let us do what needs to be done.

Suzy Down the Road.