Monday, Mar 02nd

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Passengers flee bus after it causes 3-vehicle accident

page3c230PHILIPSBURG--Passengers on board a bus fled the vehicle after it caused a three-vehicle accident on Prins Bernhard Bridge around 2:00pm Thursday.

"They all ran away. In a minute all the passengers were gone," an eyewitness said.

The accident occurred when the bus slammed into the back of a silky bronze Hyundai Tucson, which then ran into the white Hyundai Accent in front of it.

An eyewitness told The Daily Herald the drivers of the Tucson and Accent had been waiting on the bridge for the traffic to clear at the junction, where the traffic lights still are not working, when the bus came around the corner from Bush Road onto the bridge at high speed and slammed into the back of the Tucson, forcing it into the rear of the Accent.

The bus driver was overheard saying he had tried to stop the bus, but could not do so in time.

Traffic on and around Prins Bernhard Bridge was backed up for a while as police conducted their investigations into the incident. No one was injured.

Merchants to stage protest march for better security

MARIGOT--Shop keepers in Marigot are to stage a march on Monday, February 23, to protest what they say is the inadequate state of security, not only in Marigot but throughout the French side.

The initiative started by a collective of merchants in Marigot seeks to demand an improvement in security for businesses and citizens.

Marchers will gather for a 9:00am start at the junction of Rue Kennedy and Rue Générale de Gaulle, opposite Marina Royale. Organisers indicate some 100 business owners and employees are taking part but the general population and community councils are invited to participate for a greater impact.

The march will proceed towards the Préfecture where a delegation will hope to be received by the Préfet to submit its complaint. It is expected a number of shops and boutiques will be closed in the morning for the demonstration.

"The situation doesn't get better, and nobody is doing anything about it," complained one merchant. "We need more police patrols, better street lighting, more video surveillance cameras and better communication between Police and Gendarmerie and the merchants."

Monday's march will mark the third protest about security in a year. In May 2014 business owners submitted a petition with a hundred signatures demanding a solution to the Marina Royale parking problem where vagrants and drug addicts loiter, their presence deterring tourists and impacting business negatively in the marina.

At the end of June 2014 a series of robberies in Baie Nettle prompted an open letter addressed to the Préfet and President of the Collectivité.

Figures indicated a worrying increase of armed robberies in 2014 despite a drop in general delinquency figures; 2015 did not start well either with armed robberies at times occurring on a daily basis.

Two sentenced for resisting their arrest

PHILIPSBURG--Fourteen weeks, twelve of which were suspended, with two years' probation was the sentence meted out to two men on Thursday. The Court found them guilty of exerting public violence against two police officers and resisting their arrest.

More than 2½ years after the incident and seven court sessions later, Lee Marvin Lake (41) and Micah William Duzon (29) finally learned their fate in what they considered a case of police brutality and self-defence.

Lake, Duzon and two other suspects were stopped by the police in the early morning of August 2, 2012, while they were driving on Sucker Garden Road. The police had received a report that a person who was in the company of three others had been using false US dollar bills at a nearby club. As the police arrived on the scene, a security guard at the club told the authorities the four had driven off in a car towards Sucker Garden.

Two police officers stopped the car and asked the occupants for their identification. Only the driver of the vehicle could provide some form of identification. The others, including Duzon, who was sitting next to the driver, and Lake, who was sitting in the back of the car, could not.

As one of the officers was checking the driver's papers, the passengers in the car began complaining and remarking about the long duration of the inspection. At a given moment, Lake got out of the car and did not heed the officer's requests to step back into the vehicle. When the police officer grabbed him by his shoulder, Lake pushed him away and a fight ensued.

The officer was hit in his face several times, pushed to the ground and injured on his forehead and right wrist, according to a medical report.

The two suspects also received blows and were hit with a baton, but the Court rejected claims they had acted in self-defence. They claimed there had been no valid reason to stop them and blamed the two police officers for the escalation of events.

"The police officers pulled out their sticks and started beating them up," a witness, who also had been heard in court during a previous session, had stated. "The young men did not attack the police officers," she also said.

The court rejected the witness' statements, as these were not corroborated by the statements of the police officers and the suspects.

The judge found the escalation unnecessary as, according to the judge, the officers had a good reason to stop the suspects and arrest them, as they could not or had not wanted to identify themselves.

Theo: No meeting ever held with Schotte, VDC member

PHILIPSBURG--"I am getting tired of being associated with Gerrit Schotte. I have never met with Schotte at the UP headquarters. I have never met anyone that identified themselves as the secret service of Curaçao. Nor have I ever wanted to. I had no meetings with them. I have never asked for information from them."

That was the statement from United People's (UP) party leader Member of Parliament (MP) Theo Heyliger upon reading Thursday about supposedly "secret documents" released online by anti-St. Maarten Member of the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament Ronald van Raak of the Socialist Party (SP). The documents point to a meeting on or around the 2010 elections in St. Maarten between a member of the Curaçao Security Agency VDC, candidate Curaçao Prime Minister Gerrit Schotte, candidate minister George Jamaloodin and Heyliger.

Heyliger told The Daily Herald which carried a story about the documents, "The only time that I knowingly had discussions with the secret service was those of St. Maarten for the screening of ministers [of the current Gumbs Cabinet]."

"All other meetings with Schotte and [candidate minister George] Jamaloodin have been about the working relationship of the countries Curaçao and St. Maarten," Heyliger said.

The UP leader called the situation of his name being thrown into every controversy as "becoming tiring."

"It appears as though when any attempt at stirring up a controversy starts to wane, the best way of trying to revive it is to administer a shot of Theo Heyliger. It is as though my name must be called whether I am involved or not," Heyliger said.

Nearing his two-decade milestone in politics, Heyliger said, "Entering politics I have one goal and that one goal remains – to serve the people of St. Maarten and to serve them for as long as they so desire. If it is the goal of people in The Hague to cause unrest in St. Maarten by casting shadows on any and every one on this island, I strongly suggest this stops and stops now."

According to the documents online, the meeting in St. Maarten was confirmed in a letter by then Antillean Minister of Justice Magali Jacoba (who was not part of the meeting in question) on September 20, 2010, less than three weeks before the dismantling of the Country the Netherlands Antilles. The letter was addressed to the then Head of the Department of Internal and External Security of the VDC Lawrence Pietersz.

In the letter, which was based on a conversation between Jacoba and then Head of the VDC Edsel Gumbs, who was forbidden by Schotte to enter the VDC in the latter part of October 2010, Pietersz was confronted with his unauthorised travel as VDC team chief to St. Maarten on September 16 and 17, 2010. Pietersz was offered a ticket to St. Maarten by a third person, presumably by Curaçao businessman George Jamaloodin who later became Finance Minister in the Schotte cabinet.

According to the letter, Pietersz was seen in the company of at least two Curaçao politicians of the MFK party of Gerrit Schotte. The letter doesn't mention names, but it is highly likely that the concerned politicians were Schotte and Jamaloodin.

Jacoba further informed Pietersz that he had met with Schotte, Jamaloodin and Heyliger at the headquarters of the UP party. The meeting was confirmed by Interim VDC Head Rudy St. Jago, who filed an official complaint against Pietersz in February 2011.

Van Raak's article, headlined "Secret documents-How the Curaçao gambling mafia bought a security service," also referred to the theft of information at the VDC late October 2011. VDC information, which Van Raak said included material of the Dutch intelligence and security agency AIVD and the American Central Intelligence Agency CIA, was copied, destroyed or removed.

GEBE load-shedding due to problem with production unit

PHILIPSBURG--Utilities company GEBE has been load-shedding electricity in certain areas due to "technical difficulties" it is encountering with one of its production units and the "overhauling" of a second generator as part of scheduled maintenance.

"Load-shedding is designed to occur quickly to protect the system from total shutdown," GEBE told The Daily Herald in a written response to questions about the frequent blackouts certain districts have been experiencing recently. "The load-shedding schedule is rotated from time to time to minimise customers being affected repeatedly. Certain areas are never included in the rotation, such as those serving the hospital and airport."

GEBE did not specify what areas had been affected thus far and did not give an indication in what areas it would continue until the problem is rectified.

Several areas experienced blackouts on Monday and Tuesday. Sections of Dutch Quarter, St. Peters, Cole Bay and Simpson Bay reported blackouts of more than an hour and in some areas close to three hours on Tuesday alone. More blackouts were reported on Thursday in at least one area.

GEBE said its maintenance crew was working diligently and steps were being taken to address the issues.

GEBE Managing Board President Romelio Maduro apologised for the inconvenience caused as a result of the load-shedding. He said, "Every effort is being made to ensure that NV GEBE's system is safe, secure and reliable for the benefit of customers and the island as a whole."

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