PHILIPSBURG–The Court of First Instance on Wednesday denied National Alliance (NA) Member of Parliament (MP) and former Minister of Public Housing, Spatial Planning, Environment and Infrastructure VROMI Christophe Emmanuel’s request for the return of his iPhone and diplomatic passport, which were seized during a search of his home on October 22.
Emmanuel was arrested two months ago on suspicion of abuse of his position as a minister, and of forgery, or complicity in such acts.
In the so-called “Begonia” investigation the former minister and another suspect are accused of unlawfully long-leasing government land to acquaintances at the end of their tenure in 2017.
According to the Prosecutor’s Office, Emmanuel issued more than 10,000 square metres in long-lease agreements to eight persons, three of whom were part of his cabinet, including his chief of staff, while he was still VROMI minister and before the government of which he was a member, was ousted by a new majority in Parliament. The ministerial decrees for all eight persons were signed on December 15, 2017.
Emmanuel’s lawyer reiterated that the search of Emmanuel’s home was illegal during the hearing on Wednesday. She had previously argued for the return of Emmanuel’s iPhone and diplomatic passport in a hearing earlier this month.
The Prosecutor said the phone could not yet be returned. According to the Prosecutor, Emmanuel has declined to make his phone’s access code available to the police. Currently, forensic experts in Curaçao are working on data from this phone. Once that is done the phone will be returned to its owner, the Prosecutor said.
In its decision, the Court said it is too early in the investigation for Emmanuel’s phone to be returned to him. Regarding his diplomatic passport, the Court said authorities have to right to seize it during an ongoing investigation as the owner of the passport is the Kingdom of the Netherlands and, although he is the holder of the passport, it is not the personal property of Emmanuel.
Bron: Daily Herald