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‘Integrity breach’ at Intelligence Service

WILLEMSTAD--Prime Minister Gerrit Schotte (MFK) blames the Intelligence Service Curaçao VDC for the fact that sensitive personal information from ministers of his cabinet was made public.

It regards findings from the investigation by VDC within the framework of the screening of the current ministers. Schotte is of the opinion that a thorough investigation at VDC is necessary.

Apparent findings from the screening are circulating in the media. In a press release Schotte concludes that the local press has learned of the findings from the VDC.

"This is a very serious breach of the integrity of the Intelligence Service," said Schotte. According to the prime minister, this breach leads to "an extreme violation of the privacy of the persons in question."

"The disclosures mean that the Intelligence Service has seriously failed in its secrecy obligation. The findings demonstrate once again that an in-depth investigation into the functioning of the Intelligence Service is necessary."

On the screening itself, Schotte said this will be completed soon. He explained that the process consists of several steps and occurs in conformity with the procedure regulated by Antillean Ordinance of February 10, 2010.

The latter precisely describes what the screening of (candidate) ministers encompasses. It regards a security check by the Attorney General and filling in a questionnaire with possible other business interests data.

However, at the insistence of Governor Frits Goedgedrag, a factual investigation was added to the process. This is an investigation into data that the Intelligence Service has in its files regarding the persons in question.

In conformity with the procedure, the Prime Minister will discuss the findings of the Intelligence Service -in combination with the security check and the statements on business interests- with the persons in question. It's possible that supplementary steps are taken to guarantee the integrity of the administrator, or the Prime Minister could decide that the person in question is not suitable to be minister.

Schotte indicated he would inform the Governor of his conclusions on Friday, December 3, 2010 at the latest.

Courier used private car to move money

MARIGOT--Further details have emerged surrounding the robbery of 200,000 euros from a courier, as reported in Monday's edition.

Prosecutor Jacques Louvier disclosed Monday the courier had been using a private car to transport the money instead of the usual Securicor van to make it less obvious that money was being transported.

Two individuals held up the courier at gun point on Sunday afternoon, soon after midday, as he was getting into the car in the area between the cemetery in Marigot and Le Pirate apartments.

The courier comes to St. Martin regularly, bringing euros and taking US dollars back to France from St. Martin, Louvier added. He works on behalf of ten undisclosed businesses or companies.

The name of the courier company was not mentioned, but Louvier had already said it was not one of the recognisable names.

There was no violence during the incident. The courier was forced to hand over the money, which in addition to the 200,000 euros included a significant amount of mixed foreign currency. The car, a rental, was taken from the courier and the suspects made their escape. In addition the car was discovered to be a stolen vehicle and found abandoned in Baie Rouge, with the keys still in the ignition.

An investigation has been opened into the theft.

Remains of sugar factory unearthed in Mont Vernon

page1a166MARIGOT--Archaeologists have discovered the remains of a Colonial-era sugar factory in the grounds of the former Plantation Museum, now closed, located just off the RN7 in Chevrise.

The discovery is significant, as a previous investigation in the area some years ago did not reveal the existence of a factory until 2009, when physical evidence merited a deeper diagnostic investigation by excavating trenches.

Dr. Dominique Bonnissent has been leading a team from Institut National de Recherches Archaéologiques Préventives (INRAP) since November 8, excavating in the area, working on the strong possibility of an existing factory due to the presence of the plantation owner's main house and adjacent stone kitchen, a typical set up in Colonial times.

What has been found is not only 18-19th century sugar factory, but also a small adjacent village that would have housed the slaves.

"We have also found a lot of post holes and you can clearly see the outline of the walls of about five small wooden houses," pointed out Dr. Bonnissent. "We think this would have been the village of the slaves. On plantations in Guadeloupe and Martinique you always had the main house, kitchen, the area where the slaves lived, and the industrial building.

"We took four days to open the site on November 8 with a digger and then spent another week on each area. It was a very short excavation, but very revealing," she added.

The sugar factory itself reveals a section of the building where metal cauldrons (chaudrons) to boil the sugarcane juice were located. The slaves used the remnants from the pressed sugar cane material as kindling to light the fire under the cauldrons.

"There were probably about four to five of these oven rooms (chaudières) used to boil the juice. It was a very big building actually.

In addition to the existing walls of the building, ash and charcoal can be seen in the sub-strata of the earth, and on the floor of the building a type of mortar used as cement.

During the early part of the excavating, Dr. Bonnissent said, the team was still not sure whether they were unearthing a church or a sugar factory.

Marchers pay final tribute to the late Pascal Delalosa

page1aMARIGOT--Some 300-400 persons dressed in white took part in a sombre anti-violence march through Marigot on Saturday morning in memory of Pascal Delalosa, the First Déco salesman murdered in his apartment last Monday night, despite his repeated warnings to authorities that he feared for his own life.

According to First Déco management, there were no family members or partner of Delalosa present for the march. He lived alone in St. Martin, but has an elderly mother living in France. First Déco is making arrangements in cooperation with the mother to have the body repatriated.

The number of participants in the march, mostly friends and colleagues, was testament to Delalosa's popularity and underscored the fact this was an innocent, non-confrontational victim who simply believed in peace and friendship, but whose life was undeservedly cut short.

Elected officials seen joining the marchers included First Vice-President Daniel Gibbs, Opposition Leader Alain Richardson, Opposition Councillor Guillaume Arnell, and a few other councillors.

One marcher, a St. Martiner called Derrick, often seen frequenting the tourism office parking area, was credited by other marchers for helping Pascal get to his apartment safely at nights.

The march followed a circuit around Marigot via Rue de Lowtown and began from First Déco, where a giant poster of Pascal was posted above the entrance.

The march paused outside the Marina Royale apartments, where participants looked up to his second floor apartment in homage. It was too much to bear for one lady, said to be a colleague of Pascal, who fainted on the spot and had to be treated by a doctor.

As marchers continued walking along Rue Kennedy and towards the cemetery, many held photos of Pascal while the lead group carried posters of Pascal that read "My good friends—stay strong."

Motorists and members of the public deposited money into a collection box carried at the front of the march to help to pay expenses.

Marchers turned right at the cemetery onto Boulevard de France, but first stopped for moment opposite a bar that Pascal frequented regularly before continuing on towards Hotel de La Collectivité.

As the march halted at the rear of Hotel de la Collectivité, the crowd spontaneously cried out "Pascal, Pascal, Pascal!" to get the attention of President Frantz Gumbs, who was at the time assisting with a wedding.

Marchers became increasingly agitated waiting for President Gumbs to emerge, some commenting why a wedding should have more importance over the death of Pascal.

Finally, coming out to address the crowd, Gumbs attempted to console the marchers by offering sympathy, saying the Collectivité is making a big effort in terms of prevention, but reminded security is still a shared responsibility between Collectivité and State.

His words were then drowned out by angry reactions from the crowd. "This is the third white march in three years since 2008 and always the same speech. What do you have to say about that?" screamed one woman.

"What about the lighting in Marigot that was promised?" shouted another man.

Despite some members of the crowd venting their anger at what they perceived is inaction by authorities to control the crime situation, the march continued peacefully to a conclusion at First Déco.

One despondent woman carrying a placard reading, "Louvier—Where is the justice?" (referring to Prosecutor Louvier), said: "The Collectivité never does enough and is incapable of doing enough. The Collectivité just looks after itself. I don't know where government officials live, but obviously not in the real St. Martin."

Said another; "The authorities killed Pascal, because they did nothing to prevent this happening. They knew he was in danger."

Referring to statements by the Préfet that figures show a reduction in criminal activity, Opposition Leader Alain Richardson commented; "This is not about figures. This is about that sense or feeling of safety that people have. Now we are seeing a life being taken in one's own home, not on the street.

"The fact that the victim expressed to Gendarmes he was feeling threatened and nothing was done, and that we have to wait for a life to be taken to do anything about it is totally unacceptable. I'm appealing to the Préfet not to hide behind figures, but to address the reality of how afraid the people are."

Harbour promises more elaborate fireworks display for New Year’s

Mingo urges more businesses to get involved

POINTE BLANCHE--St. Maarten Harbour Group of Companies is readying for the start of 2011. At the stroke of midnight, an elaborate fireworks show over Great Bay has been planned to rival the shows of the past six years that drew massive crowds to Great Bay Beach Promenade (boardwalk).

Harbour Group of Companies CEO Mark Mingo signed the agreement with the fireworks company on Thursday. This will be the first year that the show will be completely computerised and will be choreographed with the brightest colours and designs. Application for the fireworks permit is pending with the Fire Department.

Mingo said the fireworks display is an annual tribute to the island's population, who do their best to ensure that St. Maarten lives up to its name "The Friendly Island" every day.

"This year has not been without challenges," he said, singling out the still waning global economic crisis and the spike in crime that have affected residents and the cruise industry.

"We will usher in a new year with the fireworks and hopefully it will be a new year in which everyone – harbour, merchants and residents – realise that we all depend on each other economically and socially. The harbour, through the revenues it generates, never falters in its responsibility to its owner, the people of St. Maarten," Mingo said.

He urged merchants and businesses across the island to get involved in the New Year's celebration. "Yes, we have had a tough year, but it has been a year that has been much better than on many other Caribbean islands that are dependent on tourism and cruise tourism in particular."

Merchants and business people have a responsibility to the people of the island, their staff and families to usher in 2011 in grand style, to lift spirits and to show that doing business here is not a chore or a drive to only make money.

"It has to be a commitment to more than just the ordinary. There is no room for complaining that not enough is being done to promote the island. If we, as the business community, put a consorted effort into making New Year's on the boardwalk and the holiday season a true time of giving, the benefits would be enormous," Mingo said.

Culture Minister Rhoda Arrindell is working with the St. Maarten Chamber of Commerce to get Philipsburg and other parts of the island in the festive spirit. The official holiday season will begin on December 5 with the annual Thanksgiving Service to mark the end of the Hurricane Season and the lighting of the Christmas Tree in front of the Government Administration Building by Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams.

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