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Three lose driver’s licences for driving under influence

PHILIPSBURG--Three persons had their driver's licences temporarily revoked Thursday by a Judge of the Court of First Instance for driving under the influence.

Lozada A. had over-enthusiastically celebrated the birthday of a friend on January 8. She confessed to having consumed ten beers in total, at two different bars. While driving home in her Hyundai Getz she had caused a rear-end collision on Welfare Road in the vicinity of Soggy Dollar Bar.

A side mirror was broken in the incident, but the woman showed the Judge a receipt to prove she had paid damages. She also asserted she had not driven in her car since then. "It has been put up for sale," she told the Judge.

Prosecutor Maarten Noordzij said the woman had been incapable of driving and had endangered traffic. She was walking unsteadily, had slurred speech and bloodshot eyes, police officers had written in their report.

The St. Maarten Police Force does not have breathalysers to establish intoxication, but judges accept police reports as evidence of a suspect's inebriety.

The Prosecutor recommended the Court to impose a NAf. 500 fine and revocation of the driver's licence for six months.

The Judge said the woman had handled the case properly, which led him to reduce the penalty to a NAf. 250 fine and a three-month revocation. After her conviction, the woman was ordered to immediately hand over her licence to the Prosecutor.

Virginie D. (40) of French St. Martin caused a collision on September 9, 2014, while driving under the influence from Marigot to Cost-U-Less on Bush Road. She told the Judge she had been drinking two to four rums and coke with a friend at her tackle shop in Marigot.

"It was a quiet day and there was not much to do," she said in explaining the drinking spree.

The woman told the police she had hit a car when it came out of a parking space alongside the main road. "The driver of the car did not want to involve the police to settle insurance matters," she said.

Prosecutor Noordzij said the woman had been totally unfit to drive. She had no recollection of the accident and spoke incomprehensibly. He said the woman had been a safety hazard and asked for a NAf. 500 fine and a four-month driving ban. Considering the woman is a resident of French St. Martin, the ban can only be imposed on driving in Dutch St. Maarten.

The Judge decided to sentence D. similar to the other woman and imposed a NAf. 250 fine and a three-month driving ban.

Bruno T. (28) was not present for his trial. He had caused a head-on collision on Airport Boulevard near 744 nightclub while he was under the influence on November 20, 2014.

The Prosecutor said T. had been driving his Renault Twingo on the wrong side of the road, where he had caused a collision with an oncoming vehicle.

T. had confessed he had had five alcoholic beverages to drink. He was aggressive, could barely stand up, spoke with a slur and had bloodshot eyes, the police had written in their report. He also received a NAf. 250 fine and a three-month ban on driving in Dutch St. Maarten.

AUF wins 6 of 7 seats and forms govt with Victor Banks new Chief Minister

page17a282ANGUILLA--Anguilla's new Government was sworn into office by Governor Christina Scott at a short ceremony on Thursday, April 24.

The Governor formally congratulated the new members, telling them they had an ambitious agenda and she would enjoy working with them to achieve the common goal of a prosperous Anguilla.

She thanked all the persons who had worked hard to make the election successful, including Supervisor of Elections Aurjul Wilson, the Returning Officers and the Royal Anguilla Police Force.

Victor Banks was the first member to swear the Oath of Allegiance and Oath for the due Execution of Office, and received an appointment letter from the Governor. The other Ministers of Government, Evans McNiel Rogers, Curtis Richardson and Cora Richardson-Hodge, all took their oaths, followed by Cardigan Connor who was sworn in as Parliamentary Secretary. The announcement of individual Ministerial responsibilities will be made on Monday.

Chief Minister Victor Banks said his Government was there to serve the people of Anguilla and their election was a contract to provide the people of Anguilla with what they deserved: giving all an opportunity to enjoy the Anguilla dream, live in peace and security, have a better standard of living, be able to educate their children and enjoy rest and relaxation.

He said it was humbling to personally receive more than 1,000 votes, but pointed out that the voting system had to be revised, as many people had stood in the hot sun for several hours to vote and this should be made easier.

Asked why he thought his party had made a clean sweep of seats, he said people in Anguilla had not been happy during the last few years, many had lost their jobs or lost property, could not meet medical and other expenses, so they wanted a change. He spoke of having a cordial relationship with the British Government that would be continued.

Following the ceremony, the first meeting of the newly formed Executive Council took place in the Executive Council Chamber. The Council approved a draft regulation enabling the Governor under section 4(a) of the Public Holidays Act to prescribe Friday, April 24, 2015, as a public holiday in Anguilla.

Counting of the votes in the 2015 election did not finish until 4:30am. The turnout in each district was high with more than 70 per cent of eligible voters going to the polls in all but one district.

The Anguilla United Front (AUF) won 6 of the 7 seats with the other seat going to independent Palmavon Webster in Island Harbour.

Victor Banks won the seat in Valley South with 1,057 votes over Evan Gumbs of the Anguilla United Movement (AUM) who had 655 votes, and George Kentish of the Dove party with 28 votes.

Evans McNiel Rogers (AUF) won the Valley North seat with 948 votes over Elkin Richardson (AUM) who had 396 seats and Sutcliffe Hodge (Dove) with 58. Rogers was the Leader of the Opposition in the last House of Assembly.

The other AUF members are all new to the positions with Cora Hodge taking the Sandy Hill seat with 461 votes over Jerome Roberts (AUM) with 295.

Cardigan Connor is the newly elected member for the AUF in West End and he took 389 votes over Kristy Richardson-Harrigan of the AUM who had 313 votes.

Curtis Richardson (AUF) is the member for Road South who had 641 votes over Haydn Hughes (AUM) with 575, Statchel Warner (independent) with 10 and Clifton Niles (Dove) with 24.

The Road North seat was won by Evalie Bradley (AUF) with 394, one vote more than Patrick Hanley (AUM) with 393.

The only elected member not in the AUF is Palmavon Webster (independent) of Island Harbour who gained 460 votes over Othlyn Vanterpool (AUF) with 434 and Ellis Webster (AUM) with 412.

Joint Court puts focus on quality in its annual report

PHILIPSBURG--Quality is the theme of the Joint Court of Justice's 2014 annual report. In the report, which was presented to the media in Curaçao on Wednesday, the Court also provided information on the number of court cases handled in the Dutch Caribbean.

The Joint Court of Justice of Aruba, Curaçao and St. Maarten and of Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba asserted that it wanted to deliver justice of good quality and in a timely fashion in the four Kingdom countries.

However, the Joint Court, which is presided over by President Evert Jan van der Poel, pointed out that its financial means were limited, whereas the required investments were increasing.

The Joint Court said it had managed to reduce its operational losses by "freezing" vacancies and by reducing cost by approximately one million guilders.

This enabled the Joint Court to close off the past year with a small positive financial result of NAf. 195,000, despite late payments of financial contributions and cost-cutting measures by the kingdom countries.

The Courts of St. Maarten and of Bonaire, Statia and Saba had both exceeded their budgets. The Courthouse in St. Maarten, which also handles court cases in Statia and Saba, exceeded its 2014 budget by NAf. 117,000.

The Joint Court said investments had been made last year to improve quality; for instance, in the areas of education, such as legal courses and courses in customer care, and investments in information and communications technology (ICT).

It was further noted that staff members had become more involved in the Court organisation through the introduction of a staff council. Elections for the council were held in August 2014, in which Joyseline Daniel was elected St. Maarten's representative and Geritza Fermi for Bonaire, Statia and Saba.

As to the number of court cases, it was stated that the number of minor cases, in particular cases concerning civil liens, civil cases handled in the absence of a defendant and criminal cases dealing with offences had decreased considerably.

However, it was noted that the workload for the Court had not decreased, due to an increase of severe and complex cases. The number of court cases on the merits and criminal cases increased, including a number of "mega-cases." The number of tax cases also increased and is expected to increase even further with the introduction of new fiscal legislation in Curaçao and in St. Maarten.

The Court of St. Maarten dealt with 898 civil cases in 2014, compared with 1,107 cases in 2013. The number of administrative cases increased from 245 in 2013 to 311 last year. The Court dealt with 2,334 criminal cases in 2014 compared to 3,417 in 2013.

The Joint Court stated that progress had been made in giving the Court a more Caribbean face. New local jurists are being trained and those who have finished their training have been nominated for appointments as judges.

St. Maarten welcomed Aruba-born Judge Mauritsz de Kort as one of these Caribbean faces as per January 1, 2015.

The Joint Court said it had reinforced its external communication last year with improved information and a more proactive press policy. It also introduced guidelines for the media and streamlined its operations with partners in the administration of justice, such as lawyers and the Prosecutors' Offices.

Housing also has improved, the Joint Court stated, with the opening of a new courthouse in Aruba. In St. Maarten, the building of the former Parliament of the Netherlands Antilles has been made available to Courthouse staff. Investigating judges in Curaçao obtained separate and secured offices.

Dutch-side French-side governments discuss topics during ‘meet and greet’

MARIGOT--Harmonisation of taxes, rooting out abusers of social benefits, and controlling immigration were among topics marked for high importance at a meeting between the two island governments in Hotel de La Collectivité on Wednesday morning.

It was the first courtesy visit organised between the two administrations since Marcel Gumbs became Prime Minister of Country St. Maarten. The opportunity afforded elected officials and the respective technicians from both sides to meet their counterparts, verify dossiers and exchange contact details.

As Prime Minister Gumbs pointed out, establishing communication channels is the first step in the cooperation process.

“There is cooperation, there has been cooperation, but we need to intensify it,” he said at a press briefing afterwards. “One of the points we discussed was the joint waste water treatment plant project for Cole Bay and Marigot, which will be financed by the European Development Fund. In February, the Prime Minister of the Dutch side was appointed by the Overseas Countries and Territories (OCT) as the Regional Authorising Officer, which means the 40-million euro envelope from the fund will be coordinated by the Dutch side for the region and partly used for the waste water treatment plant. The French side will get its own financing for the plant, separately from the EU.”

The often disputed demarcation of the Oyster Pond boundary was also raised. Gumbs indicated the Kingdom of the Netherlands and Paris will start talks on that issue in June or July. The Oyster Pond issue as an inland water is in a separate portfolio to the recent agreement establishing the demarcation of sea borders. Gumbs clarified that an agreement had been reached between the two countries on the sea borders between the Dutch side and St. Barths, but was not yet signed.

“It was agreed by the respective technicians and will be signed in the next three or four months,” he said.

During the meeting, MP Daniel Gibbs presented Prime Minister Gumbs with a copy of the Franco-Dutch Police Cooperation Treaty, which was recently ratified in the National Assembly on March 19.

“This is good news and another step forward in that we have a structured and regulated treaty, where law enforcement can truly cooperate with each other in fighting crime,” Gumbs noted.

President Aline Hanson estimated the treaty should come into effect “within one or two months from now.”

Another point discussed was the possible harmonisation of taxes on both sides, not to have the exact taxes on each side, but to know what each side is doing and to find a balance between the two in the their application and implementation.

“The idea behind this is to avoid the to and fro between both sides, where people try to escape taxes, Gumbs explained. “Non compliance in paying taxes is a serious problem for both our governments. For government to function, it needs tax revenue. Non compliance is way too high on both sides, between 30 to 40 percent.

Regulating and controlling the abuse of social benefits is another priority for both governments.

“We have nothing against people looking for work, but there are people, who intentionally abuse the system and that we have to protect,” Gumbs continued. “We’ve talked about it together and also with Préfet Chopin, but there are privacy issues on the information. You cannot exchange lists just like that. So we will probably try to sit down and compare lists without giving them to each other. People are collecting dishonestly on both sides and they need to be scratched from the system.”

Cooperation in terms of emergency situations and natural disasters was another point.

“I would love to see the day, for example, if there is a major fire the firemen from the Dutch side know where the French side hydrants are and vice versa for the French side firemen.”

He said the police cooperation treaty would help in controlling immigration with the posting of reciprocal agents at all ports of entry. However, human smuggling at remote beaches is still a concern due to St. Martin’s proximity to the US Virgin Islands.

“Our location is a blessing in one way and a curse in another way”, Gumbs added. “I have just had a meeting with the Minister of Defence in the Netherlands. We talked about improving the services of the Coastguard. I requested from the Minister that it is important for the Coastguard on the Dutch side to have a very close working relationship the French and US Coastguard, because we are in a region where human smuggling and drug transhipments are prevalent.”  

Senior and Teen Carnival Queens 2015 crowned

page1a280Senior Queen Phausha Winklaar (left) and Teen Queen Jondalin proudly show off their crowns.

 

CARNIVAL VILLAGE--St. Maarten has two new Carnival Queens. Phausha Winklaar took home the crown in the Senior competition on Tuesday night. With her win, she also takes the title of Miss St. Maarten. Jondalin Brown was victorious in the Teen pageant.

 

First runner-up in the Senior competition was Chalmarie Vlaun, with Mabel Arnaud as second runner-up.

 

Teen runner-up was Samantha Williams with Ishani Richardson as second runner-up.

 

The first round of the pageant, consisting of Speech and Cultural Wear, had taken place on in Sonesta Great Bay Beach Resort March 22. Points earned in this event were carried over to Tuesday night’s final in which 12 Teen and Senior contestants vied for the two crowns.

 

Judges Ife Badejo, Angelique Martis-Roumou, Nathalie van Heyingen, Danaë Daal, Sharalee Lint and head judge Kaishah Peters had the difficult task to pick the winners through a point system over various rounds.

 

After an introductory dance in which the contestants were joined by last year’s Teen Queen D’Shnay Mathew-York and Senior Queen Bria Sorton, each girl came forward to introduce herself briefly, as the girls already had been more extensively introduced in the first round.

 

 

 

Talent Seniors

 

It was then straight on to the talent section, where the contestants dealt with a range of social issues. Starting with the seniors, Damiana Blijden delivered a monologue with a dance about being bullied at school, something with which she has personal experience.

 

Arnaud showed creativity with a skit called Last Words in which she convincingly portrayed a woman being hanged for murdering her husband who had sexually assaulted her daughter. The strong message was that people should report this behaviour and not take matters into their own hands.

 

Winklaar, in her skit, portrayed a busy woman diagnosed with breast cancer, with the message check your breasts.

 

Vlaun also performed a skit in which she gave the message that every person counts and that disabled people should be respected in society. She illustrated this by bringing onto the stage two friends who both have a disability and who received warm applause from the crowd.

 

Anttonet Baker delivered an original performance with a gospel song illustrating that Jesus loves all people, no matter what mistakes they may have made.

 

Closing the ranks for the seniors was Sidneila Richardson with Diary of a showgirl whose smoking had led to cancer, which saw her jumping into a coffin and being carried off stage.

 

 

 

Talent Teens

 

Teen contestant Ishani Richardson had the support of the crowd when she acted out the role of a preacher, giving a sermon to the crowd, which was met with many amens and hallelujahs.

 

Williams followed with a skit about a young girl who goes off on the wrong track due to missing the love of her father, who is not present in her life.

 

Adreeane Harrigan appeared on stage dressed as a mobile phone, portraying the level to which people are addicted to modern technology.

 

She was followed by Romaincia Flemming with a poem and a dance dedicated to the culture and history of her grandfather.

 

Tsjaniqua Jeffrey Lake was a victor, not a victim, in a skit about domestic violence.

 

Brown, who proved to be a crowd favourite, showed incredible acting skills as she portrayed in a Jamaican accent a teenager getting into trouble as a result of bad parenting.

 

During a short break, the crowd was entertained by representatives of sponsor Motorworld, who threw beach balls into the crowd.

 

 

 

Swimwear

 

The senior contestants then appeared on stage together in brightly coloured swimsuits in the swimwear round. The group appearance was followed by individual performances in which the women were judged on fitness and deportment, amongst other things.

 

Each young woman received big applause from the crowd.

 

An energetic dance troupe entertained the crowd as they were coming down from the high provided by the senior contestants in their swimwear.

 

 

 

Costumes Teens

 

It was then time for one of the highlights of the evening: the costume round. Starting with the Teens, Ishani Richardson looked every inch the Carnival Queen in a multicoloured costume.

 

Williams impressed as a pink-and-purple bird-like Pink Empress.

 

Harrigan wore a costume that literally lit up the Carnival Village.

 

Flemming’s zebra costume showed creativity, whilst Lake’s costume portrayed how children are our treasure and had two baby dolls incorporated in it.

 

Brown cemented her position as crowd favourite with a colourful costume which she carried like a true queen.

 

 

 

Costumes Seniors

 

It was then up to the Seniors, and Blijden appeared in a stunning orange outfit depicting sunset.

 

Arnaud had a hard act to follow, but managed to impress in circle of life, a costume consisting of blue circles.

 

Winklaar depicted the variety of cultures in St. Maarten with a multicoloured costume.

 

Vlaun wore a beautiful red costume depicting Mother Earth.

 

Baker wowed the crowd and photographers alike with a glow-in-the-dark butterfly outfit.

 

Sidneila Richardson showed off her physique in an orange-and-blue costume that made her appear regal and proud.

 

After the costume round, there was a break for a drink and a bite to eat while the contestants prepared for the Evening Wear round. Deejays provided a musical interlude and a video showed fragments of speeches the contestants had given during a previous round.

 

 

 

Evening Wear

 

The Evening Wear round was combined with an interview question. The Teens started off the round with Ishani Richardson wearing a white princess gown called Bedazzled. In her answer to the interview question she named communication as her strength and said she was not sure about her weaknesses, as she was still working on them.

 

Willams, in a turquoise Pacific Beauty dress, said that staying focussed in school was one of the biggest challenges for young people, because of peer pressure and bullying.

 

Harrigan, in mint green, said she would be a role model for the youths of today by taking care of their community.

 

Flemming, in a stunning pink dress called Everlasting Star, said she had learned in the pageant how to be a proper queen.

 

Lake said trust was the most valued element in friendship. She made a stunning appearance in a bright red dress called Passion.

 

Brown closed the ranks for the Juniors in a beautiful dress, but had a blackout when she was asked how she would deal with peer pressure if it went against her values.

 

For the seniors, Blijden, resembling a silver mermaid, said the success for her meant being on the stage taking part in the pageant.

 

Arnaud, in a classic blue-and-silver dress, said that if she could change a single thing, she’d have people unite to be more successful as a group.

 

Winklaar stood out in a classic black dress, fluently answering a question about her platform with the response that it would be educational development for children. She added that children are the future, which was well received by the crowd.

 

Vlaun wore a white dress. If she could pass any law, she would demand stiffer sentences against those who assault children.

 

Baker was said by many in the crowd to have the most beautiful dress, a classing black-and-silver garment. She said confidence and self-esteem were what the judges should look at most.

 

Sidneila Richardson was last on stage in a stunning dress and, when asked what was more important, education or experience, she argued that both were important.

 

 

 

Final

 

After the end of the Evening Wear round, last year’s queens Mathew-York and Sorton made their final walks whilst explaining their achievements as Carnival Queens. It was then time for a final dance of all contestants, which led to the moment for which all had been waiting: the prize giving and the announcement of two new queens.

 

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