A Heyliger supporter holding up a sign during the MP’s hearing last week Friday.
PHILIPSBURG–Detained Member of Parliament (MP) Theodore Heyliger’s attorney Eldon “Peppie” Sulvaran filed a petition with the Court of First Instance on Monday citing that the transfer of his client last week was unacceptable and requesting that the court order Heyliger’s return to St. Maarten immediately.
The lawyer could not travel to Bonaire where his client is being detained because flights to the BES islands Bonaire, Aruba and Curaçao are fully booked due to Carnival festivities. The lawyer also stated in his petition that neither he nor Heyliger’s family had been informed about the transfer.
The United Democrats (UD) leader was ordered to remain another eight days in prison in connection with the ongoing Larimar case. The prosecutor said in a statement Friday that Heyliger would undergo his pre-trial detention in the Judicial Institution Caribbean Netherlands (JICN) in Bonaire. This decision was made based on the fact that the Pointe Blanche prison has reached its maximum capacity of 70 and continuing to detain Heyliger at the Philipsburg police headquarters was not an option.
The Prosecutor’s Office issued a new policy regarding the detention of inmates that was also communicated to the public. This policy aims to safeguard proper adherence to basic human-rights standards. As a consequence, a suspect can only remain at the Philipsburg police headquarters for a maximum of 10 days. Minors may not be detained for longer than three days regardless of the crime.
The maximum capacity in the Pointe Blanche prison has been set at 70 inmates and prosecutors frequently scrutinise detention conditions. The Prosecutor’s Office had to release three prisoners last week Friday because overpopulation had led to human rights violations. These three prisoners had already served most of their prison time and were set to be released in March.
The Prosecutor’s Office expects the capacity issues at Pointe Blanche to deteriorate further in the coming weeks, as Curaçao has announced it will be sending seven prisoners back to St. Maarten.
Heyliger was arrested by the Anti-Corruption Task Force TBO on February 19. The Prosecutor’s Office is holding him responsible for accepting bribes of US $300,000 in 2011 when he was a minister.