PHILIPSBURG–The Court of First Instance Judge of Instruction ruled on Friday to keep suspended Member of Parliament (MP) Theodore Heyliger in pre-trial detention 60 days with the condition that he will be transferred back to St. Maarten. Heyliger’s lawyers argued that the transfer to Bonaire was uncalled for and illegal.
His return can only be approved by Minister of Justice Cornelius de Weever, who would have to indicate to the Prosecutor that there is space for Heyliger in the Medical ward of the Pointe Blanche Prison. Heyliger was transported to the Judicial Institution Caribbean Netherlands (JICN) in Bonaire on March 1.
Any suspect can be held up to two days from the moment of he or she is detained. After that, the judge of instruction can agree or disagree with the Prosecutor to extend the suspect’s stay behind bars to eight days, followed by another eight plus eight more.
When those 24 days have passed the detention can be prolonged up to 60 days, and eventually, if the investigation is still ongoing, an additional 30 days. Based on the country’s laws, by then the case has to be presented in court, even if it is just a pro-forma hearing where parties present what their intentions are.
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.
Heyliger was held in pre-trial detention at the Philipsburg police headquarters in interest of the Llarimar investigation; he had been arrested on February 19. The Prosecutor’s Office said via its spokesman at the time that Heyliger could not stay longer at the police station, as it would violate his right to humane detention. Therefore, as a solution, he would be housed in Bonaire, which was the closest facility to St. Maarten with sufficient capacity.