TUESDAY, 21 JANUARY 2014
PHILIPSBURG–With former National Alliance, independent Member of Parliament Patrick Illidge taken into custody by the National Detectives Monday on suspicion of bribery, money laundering and being a member of a criminal organisation, he can be suspended as an MP based on Article 50, paragraph 2 of the Constitution if he is held in pre-trial detention.
That paragraph of the Constitution states in part that an MP “shall be suspended” by law if he is in pre-trial detention in connection with the commission of an offence for which a national ordinance and an offence related to several articles of the Penal Code as specified in the Constitution.
Based on the statement from the Prosecutor’s Office, Illidge was “arrested” after he voluntarily turned himself in. “The interrogation is pending. In the interest of the ongoing investigation no further information can be disclosed.” (See related story)
The charges refer to Illidge’s alleged role in the Bada Bing case, also known as Operation Orca.
Following general judicial procedure, the Prosecutor’s Office has up to 48 hours after an arrest to present its charges and related evidence to the Judge of Instruction for the judge to decide if there are sufficient grounds for continued detention. The judge’s decision will also take into consideration issues such as whether the prosecutor needs more time to question the suspect, whether the suspect is a flight risk or a danger to the community.
If Illidge is held in pre-trial detention and is suspended, Article 50, paragraph 3, states that the MP’s place is taken by a deputy. The MP based on the Constitution “shall continue to receive remuneration during his suspension.” The person deputizing for or replacing a suspended MP “shall demit office at the same time as the other members of Parliament [at the end of the Parliamentary term,-Ed.].”
Should Illidge resign on his own accord, his vacant seat will revert to the National Alliance, the party with which he was elected in the General Elections of September 2010. He went independent shortly after the elections.
The vacant seat will then go back to the NA and to the next highest vote-getter on its 2010 slate, who is not already in Parliament. That person is former Education Minister Silveria Jacobs who received 323 votes.
Meanwhile, Article 50 also states that an MP who has been sentenced in terms of an irrevocable judicial verdict with a term of imprisonment for the commission of an offence in connection with Article 46 of the Penal Code can be suspended. Based on that stipulation an MP “shall lose membership” in Parliament and may not be re-elected or reappointed as a minister for the duration of Parliament.
Source: The Daily Herald, St. Maarten