PHILIPSBURG–Democratic Party (DP) leader Member of Parliament (MP) Sarah Wescot-Williams has set out to get clarity on whether the law on the prosecution of politicians “needs more fleshing out.” She intends to write to Justice Minister Edson Kirindongo to establish this as well as whether the recent interpretation of the law by the Joint Court of Justice is an “internal” policy or guideline.
The law in question was brought into focus with the arrest on independent MP Silvio Matser on March 2.
The Joint Court stated its stance on the law on March 16, stating that the Prosecutor’s Office does not need an order for prosecution from the Joint Court to start an investigation and make use of the powers of prosecution regarding a suspect who is also a politician.
When starting an investigation, the Prosecutor’s Office does not have to take into consideration whether a person is a politician or not. In this way, the Joint Court considers all suspects as equal under the law.
Only when a suspect, who is also a politician, is actually prosecuted by being subpoenaed or brought before the examining judge to be put in pre-trial detention (“bewaring”) does the Prosecutor’s Office need to request for an order of prosecution from the Joint Court.
Wescot-Williams said in a party press conference, held in Parliament House on Tuesday, while she is yet to see an official publication of the Joint Court’s stance, clarity is definitely needed on the matter. The position taken by the Joint Court was communicated to the press via the Prosecutor’s Office on March 17.
The MP, who is part of the Coalition of Eight with Matser, said she needs to understand whether this particular application of the law is only “an internal guideline.”
“Is it a policy or is it something that would require us to look at that law again and maybe flesh it out a little and make sure that whatever it is, it is clear and is there for everybody,” Wescot-Williams told the press.
MP Matser was arrested on March 2 as part of the “Octopus” investigation into election fraud (vote-buying) in the August 2014 Parliamentary Election. Matser, who gained a seat in Parliament from the outcome of that election, was held in restrictive custody for two weeks by the National Detectives. He and 16 others remain suspects in the case.
Source: The Daily Herald Sarah seeks clarity on application of law on prosecution of politicians