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High school students clash outside schools Thurs, Fri

~ MPC suspends two students ~

SOUTH REWARD--An undisclosed number of students had to be taken to the Philipsburg police station and reprimanded for engaging in fights in the vicinity of their school on Thursday.

Police spokesman Inspector Ricardo Henson said police had to intervene in at least three "big fights" amongst high school students on Thursday and Friday, noting that fracas are "again becoming an issue of concern."

Information gathered by investigating officers and the community police officer for that district indicated that a St. Maarten Vocational Training School (SMVTS) student confronted a Milton Peters College (MPC) student because the latter student "looked at him" with "a screw face."

This led to a fight between SMVTS and MPC students. SMVTS students fled the scene when police arrived. MPC students who remained on the scene were taken to Philipsburg Police Station where they were reprimanded and remained until their parents picked them up. Henson said the parents were apprised of the situation and urged to have "a serious talk" with their children.

The fight amongst the students continued on Friday morning in front of MPC and SMVTS causing what Henson said had been "major disruption." When the situation was brought under control, students and their parents were sent to the Police Juvenile Department to file an official report. "Because of these unnecessary fights and police [being – Ed] called to restore order, the focus of the police on other important issues was taken away," Henson said in a police press release.

The incident led to an urgent meeting amongst MPC management, Education Department representatives, Prosecutor's Office and the community police officer for that area on Friday. During the meeting parties discussed how best to tackle this situation before it gets worse.

In an invited comment on the matter, MPC General Director Wim de Visser said MPC decided to suspend two of its students for two to five days for fighting. He said MPC together with authorities will decide on a more definitive course of action. "Expulsion might be the follow up as we do not tolerate in any sense violence in and around our schools," De Visser said.

"We are in a process of further developing the quality of education. We offer a lot of extracurricular programmes; we have an intensive tutoring policy. We keep a close eye on to our students, we have a safety programme."

He said MPC needs the support of families in raising their children with good and positive support, morals and values. "This morning relatives of a student came to school and were about to fight outside the school. Fortunately, we could separate them and immediately afterwards the police took them to the police station. Another family went to the police station to report on the incident," De Visser said.

"This morning [Friday – Ed.], I invited the school managers, the police officer, truancy and probation to sit and discuss our policy regarding this incident. We all agreed that a firm statement must be made with expulsion as our ultimate decision.

"The next step in this matter is that the two students will be referred to probation and they will have a policy/treatment for both the students and their families. We will not accept the students back to our school, as our first and foremost importance is the safety of our students and staff," he said.

De Visser advised students to focus on the positive aspects of learning and studying and see the great opportunities education brings. "Another thing we need to do as a community (government, foundations, schools, churches) is to have an intense dialogue on the values and morals in raising children. Get this sensible subject on the table. Why is there so much (domestic) violence? Do we need to sort out discussions and differences in opinion in a fight? Why can't we as humans respect each other, meaning without getting straight into a fight? Why do many people think that violence is a solution for a difference of opinion? Bring this to the table and join forces as schools, police, government, foundations and churches. Say all together we cannot tolerate this and yes, we all, including families of youngsters, will take care for that," he said.

In the event of a fight, De Visser urged students to stay away from it instead of running towards it. "

The fewer spectators, the less it will evolve into something bigger. We have security that can deal with a situation like that. The more crowded the place is, the less overview they have. Do not encourage the incident while standing around. Violence is never beautiful, it is despicable," De Visser said. "Our schools are safe schools because we will never tolerate violence, whatsoever. The consequences will be for the violators," he said.

Financial supervision continues, says Rutte

THE HAGUE--Financial supervision for Curaçao and St. Maarten will remain in place, at least until the 2015 evaluation of the Kingdom Laws has been completed, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte informed the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament on Thursday.

Rutte mentioned higher supervision in his written answers to questions posed by the party leaders during the general debate on the Dutch Government's 2015 draft budget.

ChristianUnion (CU) leader Arie Slob had inquired about the relations in the Kingdom, but did not specifically ask about financial supervision. Nevertheless, Rutte addressed the matter in his reply. "The supervision on the countries based on the Kingdom Law on Financial Supervision will be maintained," he stated.

Slob had asked whether the Dutch cabinet shared the view that the representation of Aruba, Curaçao and St. Maarten in the constellation of the Kingdom is still not ideal. Also, he wanted to know the cabinet's position on the "malfunctioning place" of the public entities Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba in the Dutch constellation.

Slob further inquired about the upcoming evaluation of the constitutional relations that went into effect on October 10, 2010, when Curaçao and St. Maarten attained country status and Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba became Dutch public entities. "Does the cabinet see the need to work on equal relations between the countries in this important evaluation year that will be closed off on October 10, 2015?"

Rutte replied: "The constitutional reform of the Kingdom was realised in 2010. The relations between the parts of the Kingdom have their own character, guaranteed by the Charter. The various Kingdom Laws established in 2010 contain evaluation stipulations of which the execution is currently being prepared in consultation with the involved Caribbean parts of the Kingdom. The position of the public entities also will be part of the evaluation."

Financial supervision will be the main topic of a general debate of the Permanent Committee for Kingdom Relations of the Second Chamber with Minister of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Ronald Plasterk next week Thursday.

Discussed will be, among other things, the reports of the Committee for Financial Supervision CFT for Curaçao and St. Maarten, and for Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba of the first six months of 2014; the interim report of the audit of Aruba's financial position carried out by CFT's secretariat; and the report of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) of its consultation regarding Curaçao and St. Maarten.

The Second Chamber will have a separate debate with Minister Plasterk on November 6 on the CFT's control tasks for Curaçao and St. Maarten. This debate was requested by Member of the Second Chamber André Bosman of the liberal democratic VVD party.

‘Champions of Peace’ march through town

page1a106PHILIPSBURG--A rally dubbed "Champions of Peace" was held on the afternoon of September 19. Participants marched through the streets of Philipsburg and held a small presentation at Clem Labega Square, which served as the beginning and ending point.

Students of various schools participated in the rally. Still dressed in uniform, they formed small groups holding banners for the march.

Offering kind words and touching on the significance of acting as "champions of peace," Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams addressed the crowd briefly, as did Jorien Wuite on behalf of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Youth and Sport Affairs and Marcellia Henry on behalf of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).

Addressing the crowd, Henry shared a poem called "I dream of a world of peace" by a Nepalese high school student before sharing a reflection on whether peace is really possible or an ideal concept. She also shared a UNESCO slogan: "Since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defences of peace must be constructed."

Although the turnout was less than hoped for, organisers said it was about the quality rather than only the quantity. The route of the march also was shortened, with participants skipping a planned stop at the peace monument at Philipsburg Jubilee Library.

The rally was organised by the partnership to encourage acceptance, caring and empowerment in schools PEACE IS Foundation in collaboration with the St. Maarten Youth Council Association. The objective was to encourage St. Maarten's young people, as well as the young at heart, to be champions of peace and to encourage others to do the same by advocating harmony.

Stabbed inmate moved from hospital to ‘another place’

CAY HILL--The inmate who was seriously injured when he was stabbed during a brawl at the Pointe Blanche prison last week Thursday has been moved from St. Maarten Medical Center (SMMC) to "another place."

Prison Director Edward Rohan confirmed that the inmate had been moved from SMMC and taken to a place where his safety is secured. He declined to specify whether the other location referred to was the prison.

"He has been moved from the hospital. He is not critical anymore, so the prison doctor and nurse will continue his care," Rohan said Thursday. "We have found another place for him in the meantime."

Rohan said tensions were still high at the prison and inmates were still in lockdown since last week's violent incident.

The inmate in question was injured when he was stabbed with a machete. Two firearms subsequently were found in the facility, leading to cries amongst prison guards about concerns for their safety and security.

Justice Minister Dennis Richardson announced on Wednesday a number of strict measures that will be introduced at the facility to address the security breaches that resulted in the guns being smuggled into the prison.

First hearing in sports coach paedophilia case

PHILIPSBURG--Thursday saw the first appearance in the Court of First Instance of E.Y., the 49-year-old basketball coach who is suspected of sexually abusing minors.

The hearing was pro-forma, as the prosecutor was not ready to proceed and Y.'s lawyer had investigation requests.

The prosecutor read out that Y. had currently been charged with two offences: the rape of an underage boy on April 2, 2014, after he had groomed the child on the Internet, using Facebook, and persuaded him to meet up for a one-to-one coaching session, and the second charge being a series of rapes of another underage boy, between August 2013 and February 2014, where he had groomed the child in a similar manner.

The prosecutor added that the investigation is still ongoing, and that "multiple further allegations are being investigated."

As the case would not be heard before the end of Y.'s current period of pre-trial detention, the prosecutor asked for this detention to be extended.

Y.'s lawyer, Brenda Brooks, in a manner that would have befitted an American court room drama, complained of receiving the summons of the accused at too short notice, something that was seconded by the judge.

She asked for the immediate release of her client, who "denies all involvement and has fully cooperated with the investigation." She stated the prosecution was "desperately looking for evidence that is not available."

She stated her client's image had been damaged by the case, that he would have "no life" after the case and that he would do anything to prove his innocence.

She stated that there were a number of discrepancies, and demanded that victims and witnesses be further questioned on behalf of the prosecution.

The prosecutor responded that the statements of the victims were exceptionally detailed, and apart from those, there were evidential files from Facebook and medical statements to back up accounts of the witnesses, as well as a statement from the basketball team to state it was not normal for Y. to provide one-on-one coaching. DNA investigation is also still ongoing.

He stated that Brooks had not given sufficient grounds for her request, and that to be heard again would be traumatic for the victims.

"At least tell us why, and on which points you want to question witnesses," he said. Brooks retorted, "If the prosecutors would hand over files on time, I would be able to hand over a list of names on time."

She stated again that there were discrepancies in the statements and that many of the statements were based on hearsay. "I don't want to leave any stone unturned in this case," she said, before adding that she wanted to confront witnesses with conflicting statements.

She further added that the prosecutor had said he would add more charges against Y., but that the circumstances so far must only be judged on what is available now.

Y. declared himself innocent on all charges. "My family are being put through undue anxiety through these allegations, and I am suffering from stress. I have been in prison for 100 days. If I have to stay until the case, it will have been almost a year and that is a sentence in itself," he said, before humbly requesting the court to release him, before adding: "I look forward to my freedom today."

The judge asked Y. if he had been suspended from his government job. Y. replied that he had not been suspended.

The judge denied Y.'s request for release and stated that the grounds to keep him incarcerated still applied. "The Modus Operandi in both cases is the same, and the statements are very detailed," said the judge.

He further stated that the interests of society weighed more heavily than the interests of Y.

The judge did refer the case back to the judge of investigation to hear the victims, one of whom has now turned 18. He asked the judge of investigation to put compensating measures in place, to limit the trauma for the victims, and made an "open" referral, meaning that the investigating judge has the opportunity to hear other witnesses.

The investigation team had previously indicated that E.Y. has possibly had more victims than the ones currently known to the investigators. Victims of any age and witnesses are still asked to come forward.

Anyone who has specific information to offer the investigation team is requested to visit the Prosecutor's Office. The prosecutor guarantees that your information will be handled sensitively and has appointed a specialised vice detective who will speak to potential witnesses or victims.

Anyone who is unsure whether they wish to disclose their information to the prosecutor is advised to consult with the Court of Guardianship. The Court of Guardianship, as a central point for child abuse, can further advise in the reporting process and assist people in a confidential manner where necessary.

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