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Former MP De Weever stands trial for stealing blogger’s tablet

leroy_de_weever_1PHILIPSBURG--Former Member of Parliament (MP) Petrus Leroy de Weever (61) stood trial Wednesday on allegations he had stolen blogger J.R.’s tablet during an altercation on Front Street on January 11, 2014.

The Prosecutor’s Office considers the case proven and requested that the Court sentence the senior politician to payment of a NAf. 750 fine, or 15 days in jail in case of non-compliance.

De Weever denied the allegations and said the charges were all based on lies.

De Weever’s lawyers Safira Ibrahim and Geert Hatzmann presented preliminary pleadings in which they claimed the Prosecutor’s Office’s case against their client should be declared inadmissible, as the stipulations in the National Ordinance on the Prosecution of Political Leaders had not been followed.

According to the defence, the request to prosecute their client should have been submitted to the Joint Court for approval, as he had been an MP at the time of the alleged crime. De Weever was a parliamentarian until October 9, 2014.

Ordinary crime

Prosecutor Maarten Noordzij explained that although the investigations into the case had started January 14, 2014, the prosecution had not started until April 22, 2015, when the summons was issued and the case was submitted to the Court. At that time De Weever did not hold any political office and his prosecution therefore was not subject to Joint Court approval.

Noordzij further pointed out that this case did not concern a political crime or the prosecution of a politician, but concerned an “ordinary” crime for which MPs are not treated differently than other people.

Judge E. Angela did not immediately make a decision on the admissibility of this case, but said she would do so when she rendered the verdict on November 4.

Blogger J.R. had filed a report about mistreatment, threats and theft, but the Prosecutor charged De Weever only with theft. Video images were shown in which De Weever could be seen on Front Street outside his daughter’s store, but these did not provide evidence of any altercation with J.R.

De Weever was seen waving with an object in his right hand. According to the Prosecutor, this was J.R.’s tablet. The suspect himself denied this and said it was either a handkerchief or a cheque.

Even though the Judge said she was not interested in the context of this case, the Prosecutor and the defence both painted extensive pictures of the troublesome relationship between the embattled former politician and the outspoken blogger.

Prosecutor Noordzij said it might concern a “simple” theft, but in this case the file was much thicker. He said the alleged crime had been committed as part of a long-running conflict during which the defendant had become the victim in many blogs concerning his close ties with former MP Patrick Illidge, who was convicted of corruption in the so-called Bada Bing case.

These blogs, in which De Weever was compared with Saddam Hussein and Adolf Hitler and called a paedophile and abuser of women, were the immediate cause of the conflict. The blogger allegedly also forced her way into his daughter’s store.

Freedom of expression

The Prosecutor said that freedom of expression was limited. The defendant, his family, many members of which were in the public gallery witnessing the hearing, and others claim that J.R. had overstepped the boundaries in making libellous, slanderous and insulting statements.

“Whether the victim had overstepped the boundaries of freedom of expression is not under discussion today. The victim will have to justify herself for this in another procedure,” the Prosecutor explained.

Noordzij said De Weever had not been charged with threatening and mistreatment for lack of legal evidence. He considered theft of the tablet proven, dismissing statements by the defendant that he had held something else in his hand.

The Prosecutor said the defendant might have had a motive, but added that there were other ways to denounce the freedom of expression than by taking the law into his own hands.

Attorney Hatzmann pleaded not guilty and said the victim’s statements, the video-camera images and the witnesses’ statements did not provide any evidence of theft, threats or mistreatment, However, in her blogs the alleged victim had relished the fact that due to the investigations De Weever had not passed the screening to become a Minister, Hatzmann said.

Internet Terrorist

He painted a pitch-black picture of the character of the “Internet Terrorist,” describing her as a “confused” and “mentally disturbed” woman.

Hatzmann, who also was one of her victims, said the blogger’s aversion to his client bordered on hate, which apparently had led her to claim falsely that he had been drunk, had threatened and mistreated her and had taken her tablet.

De Weever, who is currently working as a realtor, asked the Judge for an acquittal. “There is very little we can do about her [J.R. – Ed.] but my reputation and how people look at me on this island has become very different,” he said in his last word.

J.R. will have to appear in Court on October 21.

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