~ Badejo, Merx say search ‘political’ ~
DEFIANCE--The home and office of Princess Juliana International Airport SXM Director Regina LaBega and the home of former journalist and editor Fabian Badejo were amongst searches conducted by the National Detectives on Thursday.
Both Badejo and Labega’s attorney believe that the searches were politically motivated, with Badejo claiming that “politicians and very high people in government” have been gunning for Labega’s downfall.
Prosecutor Gonda van der Wulp told The Daily Herald that a total of five searches had been conducted simultaneously and began in the early morning hours. She declined to specify where the searches were conducted, but she indicated that homes and offices were included in the search in relation to “an ongoing investigation.”
She also declined to provide details of the nature of the ongoing investigations, but indicated that computers and office items were amongst the items confiscated. She said these items now have to be analysed to determine whether they contain any “evidence” in the ongoing investigation.
Word of the searches quickly spread around the island early Thursday, causing many to speculate about the reasons for the searches.
Badejo confirmed that his home had been searched during a radio interview broadcast on PJD2’s newscast. He speculated that his relationship with LaBega was the reason for his home being subjected to a search, but said both he and Labega had “nothing to worry about.”
He said too that he believed that the search had been purely political. “That (Badejo’s relationship with LaBega) may be the real target because there are politicians and very high people in government who are embroiled in the present situation, who had been bragging at the Cigar Lounge and all over the place that they are out to get her and well obviously this falls within that same pattern,” Badejo said.
“But, at the end of the day I believe that her innocence and my innocence will prevail, and I have absolutely nothing to worry about and she doesn’t either,” Badejo noted in the interview.
Merx told this newspaper that despite his request for information about the searches, up to the end of the day yesterday, he was not provided with any information about what the searches were about. He is however, convinced that it was related to the investigation into matters related to the Tourist Bureau, when Labega had headed that bureau combined with current matters associated with the LaBega’s national security screening for her current position.
He was taken aback as to why almost a decade after an allegation had been levelled against his client about Tourist Bureau related matters and after everyone had been acquitted of charges in that case, that her home and office had been searched. He said the searches had to be politically motivated because it occurred nine years after the Tourist Bureau investigation began and weeks into screening matters of Labega at the Airport. He is convinced that there is a “witch hunt” against his client.
“Yes, this is political. They could have done this (searches) nine years ago, but now that they have lost all the cases against others, they are now searching. What are the reasons to do house searches at five locations nine years after she was Director at the Tourist Bureau?”
Merx said as Labega’s attorney he has a right to know why his client’s home and office had been searched.