PHILIPSBURG–A “witch hunt” and “selective prosecution” are how United People’s (UP) party leader Member of Parliament (MP) Theo Heyliger has described the latest appeal filed by the Prosecutor’s Office in the “Masbangu” case.
“The first case was thrown out by the Court. That did not sit well with the Prosecutor’s Office. The UP was branded and the brand needs to stick. Then came attempt number two. The court also saw no case, but the Prosecutor cannot stop its witch hunt. UP is the black sheep and no matter what, the party must be dragged through the mud as much as and for as long as possible,” said Heyliger in a press statement on Tuesday.
“The Prosecutor’s Office did not succeed once. They tried again and did not succeed. I guess they believe the third time’s the charm in their trumped-up attempt to discredit the United People’s party. When I saw today the Prosecutor is appealing yet again, all I could do it shake my head and say, ‘Here we go again.’ The goal is to get UP at any cost.”
The Court of First Instance “very clearly” stated in its latest verdict that it had not been established that “the so-called payments were for a certain action – namely, to vote for a particular party and that such was agreed upon, nor that there had been an attempt for such by the people who have been victimised by the Prosecutor’s Office for almost six years now,” said the MP.
“What I can deduce from the actions of the Prosecutor’s Office is it can only be labelled a vehement attempt to thwart democracy and influence the outcome of the elections of September. How so? If you continue to label a party when the Court says otherwise, your motive is crystal clear. It is to discredit and damage that party.”
The first Masbangu case was brought two years ago during elections. “Now, the verdict comes just before elections and here comes the appeal days before elections with the only possible aim being to embarrass me and influence the elections. What else could be the end game?” Heyliger asked.
“This is eerily reminiscent of what was done to my grandfather [the late Dr. A.C. Wathey – Ed.] to keep him out of office. To keep him from continuing to empower his people to stand on their own and build an island that is prosperous and non-dependent.
“Before the Prosecutor’s Office focus on spending its limited resources and manpower on real crime and on properly prosecuting those criminals who have terrorised our people, who have harmed our economy, they choose indeed to target a political party, a party whose members have worked tirelessly to better this country and throw off the shackles of others to free our people.
“This is a compounded and orchestrated attempt to smear UP for whatever reason and to possibly benefit those who seek office and who are more malleable to the desires of those outside of St. Maarten.
“Let’s go back in history, very recent in fact. It was public knowledge current Finance Minister Richard Gibson Sr. was a Minister candidate for the UP-led coalition in 2014. There was a complaint about forgery against him lodged with the Prosecutor’s Office and this blocked his candidacy.
“Forward to September 2015, to just three weeks before the National Alliance coalition was to be revealed. What happens then? The Prosecutor’s Office suddenly and without a reason the case was dropped paving the way for his appointment on the current cabinet.”
The UP leader said he would like to know who had put pressure on the Prosecutor’s Office to drop the case again the Minister and who was doing the same to damage UP. “Was it the powers that be in The Hague? We know there is no love there for UP, because this party is for the people and seeing them prosper,” he asked.
“All of this is just too coincidental. Three weeks after the complaint was dropped so did the sitting Government on September 30. It certainly makes one wonder what the motive.”
Source: Daily Herald
Heyliger: Prosecutor’s Office continues its ‘witch hunt’ with Masbangu appeal