Police Officer Major Ashwin Martina wins appeal case

PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten — After being dismissed by Minister of Justice Roland Duncan almost four years ago, Ashwin Martina can now call himself a police officer again.

Duncan had suspended Martina on July 13, 2011, in connection with a so-called investigation into some incidents that took place in April 2010, January 2011 and July 2011. Martina was dismissed in June 2012, with immediate effect based on his unsuitability for the job.

Martina engaged the services of Attorney Cindy Marica-Henderson of Mariflex Attorneys to fight the dismissal in July 2012. An appeal was filed, but in the Court of First Instance the dismissal was upheld. An appeal was filed again by Attorney Marica-Henderson, and the decision was received today.

The Council of Appeals in Civil Servant cases agreed with the Attorney that the dismissal was in conflict with the general principles of good governance.

Martina never received a warning letter, therefore the Minister could not have taken these incidents into consideration in his decision to dismiss Martina in June 2012, which was more than 16 months after the incident.

The Council deemed the incident of July 2011 serious, but ruled that it wasn’t serious enough to warrant an unconditional dismissal. According to the Council, Martina should have been given the possibility to improve his behavior. The Minister should have offered counseling and guidance instead of dismissing him. The dismissal is a disproportionately harsh disciplinary measure under the circumstances.

The Council also considered the dismissal based on the alleged inability and unsuitability of Martina as unfounded as he had been employed for 21 years as a police officer, with no warning letter in his file. The Council therefore nullified the dismissal decree, with the understanding that Martina should not neglect his duties as a police officer in the coming two years, and if the Minister offers an improvement trajectory and counseling, he must cooperate.

Speaking to a delighted Officer Martina and his Attorney Marica-Henderson, he said he was very satisfied with the decision and was ready to report back to work to properly execute his duties as a Police Officer. He will cooperate and follow instructions for improvement to be given by the Minister as per the decision of the Council.

Source: 721 news Police Officer Major Ashwin Martina wins appeal case