The arrest of 4 minors on St. Eustatius, earlier this week was carried out carefully and according to the rules. The Public Prosecutor’s Office has read reports in which the opposite is claimed and even versions are given which are not in accordance with the truth.
It is common in the case of detentions in these types of cases that the suspects are first arrested by order of the Public Prosecutor and then the places and homes are searched for evidence. Think for example of stolen property, clothing or other attributes used in criminal offences and, for example, data carriers such as phones or cameras. Such a house search looking for evidence takes place under the responsibility of the investigating judge and at the request of the Public Prosecutor. That is, of course, the case in this matter.
The action of the police to arrests the suspects, prior to searching the homes, is legal and common. First, the suspect is taken away and then the property is carefully searched.
In the case where an investigation involves minor suspects, the procedures related to the entry of a house to arrest and for the house search; do not deviate from other cases. The procedures in this case were carried out correctly and as described under the responsibility of the investigating judge.
Of course, during the interrogation and detention the minority of the suspects was taken into account. That is what has happened in this case. The suspects, contrary to what was reported in the news, were not interrogated before they had their lawyer’s assistance and the parents were also given the opportunity to be present during the interrogations; as prescribed. Naturally, not the whole family could be present.
Transferred to Bonaire
It was decided by the Public Prosecutor that two suspects would be transferred to Bonaire. That was obvious because the possibilities of detaining multiple suspects during the interrogation and investigation on Statia are limited. For example, it is very difficult to prevent suspects who are locked up in adjoining cells from discussing what they will tell the police. As a result, the investigation is seriously hampered and it is difficult for the truth to come to light or not at all.
Of course, the parents of the young people who are transferred to Bonaire were informed. That was done by the Police Chief on Statia.
The young people were transferred to Bonaire under the guidance of police officers. Regular scheduled flights were not used for this.
As applies for all suspects, the reason for, the manner of the arrest and the detention of suspects for more than 6 hours, are controlled by the investigating judge. That has happened with all detained suspects on 29 October. The investigating judge has ruled that there are enough strong suspicions against all suspects for them to be detained. The investigating judge on Statia has also stated explicitly that there were no unnecessary violent arrests.
In the reports about the experiences of the family of the suspects it is reported that the families were not informed what evidence was found against the suspects. The Prosecutor understands that this situation brings uncertainty among parents who find it difficult to believe that their children may have been guilty of criminal offences and have questions about what is going on. But at this stage, the interest of the investigation comes first. And therefore the police and the Public Prosecutor’s Office do not want not provide all information. That would mean that through the family and parents information may already become available to the suspects, which detectives would still need to use in the interrogations.
The aim of the investigation is to sketch a clear picture of who in which way is involved in which crimes. And that requires investigating techniques in the interrogations. At this stage looking for the truth weighs heavier than the needs of the parents to know exactly what evidence is collected against their children. That the crimes are cleared up is a general interest that weighs heavily for the victims, for the island and of course also for the suspects themselves. Good investigating is in everybody’s interest.
Now the investigating judge has ruled that the arrest and the detention of longer than 6 hours are lawful, the investigation can be continued. Continually, a comparative assessment will be made if the investigation will require a longer detention; and whether there may be other reasons than the interest of the investigation to detain the minors longer. Those interests will continue to be carefully weighed against the interests of the suspects to be detained as short as possible. That last interest weighs heavily for prosecutors, but very heavy when it concerns minors.
At which time, longer detention is no longer necessary, cannot be said and may vary per suspect.
The Public Prosecutor’s Office concludes that this investigation has taken carefully executed taking into account all legal rules. The Public Prosecutor’s Office also realizes that arrests of minors raises many questions among their family and perhaps misunderstanding; but points out that also the independent investigating judge has deemed sufficient reason exists to proceed with these detentions.
As with all investigations, the results obtained are the fastest and most clear if the police is allowed to carry out the investigation focused, undisturbed and, where possible, with the cooperation of those involved.
Press release Public Procecutor BES
Although this information does not directly relate to Saba, I thought that the content contains information that might be relevant in future situations.