PHILIPSBURG–The arrest of independent Member of Parliament (MP) Silvio Matser just hours before the draft 2016 budget was expected to go to a vote in Parliament and the claim by the Attorney-General and Prosecutor’s Office that the ongoing budget debate was unknown to them highlights the need for St. Maarten to have its own Attorney-General, says National Alliance (NA) leader Prime Minister William Marlin.
Marlin said in a press conference on Friday that the manner in which Matser was arrested was “unfortunate” and the details of the case “are not clear to anybody.”
Marlin said the claim from the Justice officials that the ingoing budget debate was unknown to them was “adding insult to injury.” That claim shows that the Attorney-General living in Curaçao has “no interest or is not paying sufficient interest to what is happening in St. Maarten.”
He said the question now was whether the arrest would have been postponed if the Justice official had known that the budget debate was in progress.
The claim by the Justice officials, including the Attorney-General, proves St. Maarten’s case for the installation of its own attorney-general who will live in the country and know what happens here, and not to continue with one who presides over other parts of the Dutch Caribbean, said Marlin.
It was “interesting” that the Attorney-General gave the instruction for Matser’s arrest and as a result it stalled the budget handling.
“It is known to everybody within the Kingdom” that the budget was in Parliament, Marlin said. “It should be known by everyone who has a stake and interest in St. Maarten that on Wednesday mostly likely the budget debate would have come to an end, because only nine members of Parliament were written in to speak.
“It is therefore interesting to see that the Attorney-General gave instructions for this arrest to take place on that particular morning, making it impossible for the Government of St. Maarten to finalise the handling of the budget.”
He noted it was “customary” for the Justice Minister to receive a phone call prior to an arrest to inform him “about what will be going down.”
Had the arrest taken place the day after the Parliament meeting, that budget would have been in place and “governance would have continued, in a certain sense, uninterrupted. … Could it not have waited a couple more days?” Marlin said. The national interest has been “put aside” for the interest of the Attorney-General to arrest Matser based on an investigation that started two years ago, he said.
Source: The Daily Herald Marlin: Matser’s case highlights need for own Attorney-General