PHILIPSBURG–The Judge in the Court of First Instance on Wednesday suspended the preliminary hearing in the so-called “Octopus” investigation until Thursday, October 13. This is to allow all parties more time to formulate requests for additional research and the hearing of witnesses.
During next month’s hearing, the Judge will take inventory of these requests and make a decision. The Judge will also set a date for the actual trial.
“Octopus” is the code name for the investigation into the alleged vote-buying fraud during the 2014 parliamentary election. Five suspects were summoned to appear in Court on Wednesday. These include Independent Member of Parliament (MP) Silvio Matser (49), and W.F.B. (30), E.E.L.F. (35), R.G.K. (48) and F.L.A. (46). They are suspected of participating in a criminal organisation and in the buying of votes, allegedly committed between August 18 and August 29, 2014.
Prosecutor Martin van Nes said that Matser is being accused of having made phone calls to Prison Director Edward Rohan to obtain information about the procedures during elections at the House of Detention, and about the number of eligible voters with Dutch nationality among the prison population.
Rohan confirmed that such telephone conversations had taken place and that he had provided the then candidate for United People’s (UP) party with the requested information, which included a list of eligible inmates in the Prison, the Prosecutor informed the Court.
The Prosecutor said that additional information about the telephone conversations between the Prison Director and the then UP candidate would be added to the case file, as well as data to be obtained from the other suspects’ mobile phones, which still need to be decrypted.
Matser’s co-defendants are all suspected of having cooperated with the scheme to recruit voters for UP or Matser in exchange of payment of US $100 in prison canteen money, or the handing out of beach and market stall licences, or assistance in obtaining a chauffeur’s job. In this way some 13 prison inmates were approached with requests to cast their votes for UP, the Prosecutor stated.
In the investigation, which is led by the Prosecutor’s Office and carried out by the National Detectives Agency, some 20 persons were considered suspects. One of those could not be traced and another suspect has passed away. A total of 14 suspects were detained when the investigation started.
Matser and E.E.L.F. were not present on Wednesday. E.E.L.F is currently detained for another crime. According to attorney-at-law Cor Merx, his client was not present for medical reasons. “A doctor prescribed rest to my client last week, after he was confronted by six police officers who presented him with the summons to appear in Court today,” Merx explained.
Source: Daily Herald
Octopus vote-buying case suspended until October 13