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St. Maarten court grants permission for parliamentarian Illidge’s prosecution

TUESDAY, 31 DECEMBER 2013

PHILIPSBURG–The Joint Court of Justice has granted permission for the prosecution of Member of Parliament (MP) Patrick Illidge, Solicitor-General Taco Stein said Monday afternoon.

It is not yet known what steps the Prosecutor’s Office is going to take concerning Illidge’s case and whether the MP will be taken into custody.

Stein said the Prosecutor’s Office would decide today, Tuesday, on further steps in this case and that more information would be provided as soon as such steps had been taken. He declined to provide any further information.

The verdict was given after of a closed hearing held on December 17. According to the Ordinance on Prosecution of Political Authority (Landsverordening Vervolging Politieke Gezagdragers), persons in political authority, including MPs such as Illidge, cannot be prosecuted in the same way as ordinary members of the public. Therefore, a hearing had to take place to determine whether Illidge could be prosecuted for his part in what is known as the Orca Case.

The case revolves around Bada Bing strip club owner Jaap van den Heuvel, who is at the centre of a corruption probe involving the alleged bribery of Illidge. The case concerns a videotape of Illidge apparently accepting money from Van den Heuvel. While the video suggests that the payment was for arranging permits, Van den Heuvel and Illidge had said in earlier media reports that it was repayment of a loan.

Both suspects said that United People’s (UP) party leader Theo Heyliger had asked the strip club owner to make the video to blackmail Illidge into returning to an alliance with the UP.

Illidge’s lawyer Ralph Richardson is currently not on the island and will have to review the verdict before he can comment.

It is not yet known at this stage what the exact consequences are for Illidge. Further steps will depend on the outcome of the case conference by the Prosecutor’s Office. Decisions will have to be taken about how the investigation and potential prosecution against Illidge will proceed, and what will happen to his position as MP.

Illidge is believed to be off-island.

Bron: The Daily Herald, St. Maarten

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