Dutch police chief offends Justice Minister Richardson
St. Maarten – Gerard Bouman, the chief of the national police in the Netherlands is no longer welcome at the ministry of justice in St. Maarten. “I won’t let him in,” Justice Minister Dennis Richardson told this newspaper yesterday after the first press briefing the Council of Ministers held since taking office on December 19 of last year.
Bouman’s belligerent attitude during a meeting with Richardson in July earned him the status of persona non grata.
In an internal email, about which this newspaper was the first to report last week Friday, Bouman expressed negative sentiments about St. Maarten, but he also hinted that he would soon come back for a follow-up visit. Minister Richardson won’t receive Bouman on that occasion.
“Mr. Bouman passes himself off as a strong leader of the national police in the Netherlands,” Minister Richardson said. “He does not mince his words and he says things the way they are. Mr. Bouman was expected to visit me to work on the protocol for the strengthening of the judicial chain in St. Maarten, but his response to me was: I am not here to do that.”
Instead, Richardson continued, “he came to tell me that he had sat down with the Minister of Safety and Justice, Ard van der Steur, and the Minister of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Ronald Plasterk and that they had decided that tackling undermining criminality in St. Maarten is their priority. With undermining they mean corruption. Bouman said that 55 detectives would be sent to the RST and that €22 million would become available for the strengthening of the prosecutor’s office and the court.”
Slightly stunned, Minister Richardson told Bouman that he had signed a protocol with Minister Plasterk. “We agreed in that protocol that we would work out together how this would take place. However, Bouman told me, I am not here for that, this is how we are going to do this.”
When Richardson asked how Bouman was “going to do this” without acknowledging his responsibilities as the minister of justice, the answer was: “We don’t need you.”
“So how are you going to do that without local input from our National Detective Agency and the police?” Richardson asked Bouman. According to the minister, Bouman’s answer to that remark was: ‘We don’t need them either. We have so much information on the situation in St. Maarten that it does not justify working together with you all.”
“I looked at him and said: success with that, and I ended the meeting,” Richardson said yesterday.
The justice minister did not leave it at that: he called in Dutch representative Gert Versluis to inform him about the meeting and to tell him that he was “not amused” by Bouman’s attitude. More importantly, the minister wants to know whether Bouman’s approach has the support of the Dutch government and whether Plaster and Van der Steur have decided to put the protocol aside. “Do they think they have the authority to do this, considering the constitution and the position of our police force?” Minister Richardson asked. So far, there has been no response from Kingdom Relations Minister Plasterk.
Minister Richardson also took offense at the text of the internal email Bouman sent out in the Netherlands after his visit. In it, he stated for instance that St. Maarten’s casino industry is under the control of “a notorious Mafioso.”
“If that is true,” Minister Richardson told this newspaper yesterday, “Why did the RST not arrest this Mafioso? They have been here for years. And who is this Mafioso anyway?”