Published On: Thu, Sep 22nd, 2016

Matser recruited voters in prison for UP in 2014

That is the suggestion of the prosecution in the summonssilvio-matser

GREAT BAY – Prison Director Edward Rohan gave MP Silvio Matser in August 2014, when he was a candidate for the United People’s party, a list of eligible voters in the Pointe Blanche prison, it appeared during a pro forma hearing in the Court in First Instance yesterday. Of the 68 eligible voters, 48 voted for the UP in 2014; the other votes went to the National Alliance (12), the US party and the DP (3 each) and one to Jacinto Mocks’ Social Reform Party.

The prosecution accuses Matser, who is currently an independent MP and a candidate for Frans Richardson’s United St. Maarten party, of membership of a criminal organization. Three members of that organization were inmates at the Pointe Blanche prison at the time: Franklin Luciano A. (46), Widnor Francis B. (30) and Edeson Edvis Leroy F. (35). The prosecution has charged them with recruiting voters for the United People’s party and/or for Matser in the prison. Given the results of the elections – they must have been quite convincing. According to the summons prosecutor Maarten van Nes presented in court yesterday, Matser paid $100 for each vote.

The money was deposited on the Prison Cantine Money account in the name of at least eleven inmates. Matser allegedly promised another voter help with obtaining a taxi license and another voter help with a beach license or getting a job as a driver.

Matser did not appear in court yesterday. According to his attorney Cor Merx his doctor prescribed rest after “six police officers showed up on his doorstep to serve the summons.”

When a bailiff went to Matser’s home with the summons on September 12, the suspect told him according to the prosecutor: “Tell them you could not find me and come back on Wednesday when it is too late.”

The police officers returned with the summons on September 16.

The three now former inmates and a fifth suspect, Rogelio Gregory K. (48), who made payments according to the prosecutor, did appear in court yesterday. The trial date was set for October 13.

It was the intention to do the trial yesterday, but the prosecutor announced that the investigation is not complete yet. The content of the phones of two suspects still has to be analyzed.

Attorney Merx said that it is “improper” of the prosecution to add new documents to the dossier at this stage. He also said that his client Matser does not want to be interrogated anymore. “He has been locked up, he has been in restricted custody, there have been enough opportunities to hear him,” he said.

Merx also charged that the prosecution had waited with the summons until after the ruling in the Masbangu-case.

“I would have liked to do this case today,” Merx said. “I never asked for a pro forma hearing and based on the current dossier I am not able to ask decent questions.”

Shaira Bommel, the attorney for Franklin A. and Widnor B. told the court that she had asked for files from the beginning. “The answer was that I would not get anything because the suspects were in restricted custody.”

Prosecutor Van Nes denied any connection to the ruling in the Masbangu-case whereby all defendants were acquitted by the court even though it has been established that an uncle of party-leader Theo Heyliger paid the other defendants $300 for their vote.

Merx noted that he had been confronted with a dossier of 4,000 pages and that he does not read such material until he has received a summons for his client. After he received the summons last week, he started reading the file, but he heard only on Tuesday morning that the investigation was not complete and that his client had to be interrogated again.

Matser let it be known that he will not cooperate with another interrogation.

Both attorneys said that they are unable to substantiate possible requests for further investigation – like hearing additional witnesses – based on an incomplete dossier.

Judge Dirk Gruijters said that he did not quite follow the arguments of the attorneys, but he acknowledged that setting a date for a pro forma hearing should be done in consultation. “I am surprised that the trial does not take place today,” he said.