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Former VVD senator faces bribery, fraud and money-laundering charges

THE HAGUE--A former Member of the Dutch Parliament's First Chamber of conservative VVD party is facing prosecution for bribery, election fraud and money-laundering, the Dutch Prosecutor's Office said Friday.

Jos van Rey is to appear in Court on January 20, 2015, to face a number of charges, including laundering of 175,000 euros.

Property developer Piet van Pol and former Rotterdam city council official Tilman Scheurs also face legal action in the same case, the Prosecutor said.

The investigation into Van Rey started in 2012, and included searches of his home and of city council offices in Roermond, where he was an alderman.

He resigned as an alderman shortly afterwards and then also left the First Chamber.

The election fraud claims stem from allegations he had gathered a large number of copies of vote by proxy ballots at his home in Roermond. Possession of such documents is punishable by law in the Netherlands.

No legal basis for Aruba instruction

ARUBA--Aruba's Advisory Council found no legal basis for the July instruction to Governor Fredis Refunjol by the Kingdom Council of Ministers not to sign the country's adjusted 2014 budget. Prime Minister Mike Eman (AVP) says also the current instruction to St, Maarten's Governor Eugene Holiday regarding the screening of candidate ministers is incorrect.

The advisory body headed by former Antillean and Curaçao Governor Frits Goedgedrag concluded that neither the Governors Regulation nor constitutional law made any provision for the order to hold off on ratifying the budget approved by Aruba's Parliament.

While there was sufficient reason for concern about the increasing national debt and the governor is a representative of the crown when signing the budget, he in fact does so as an entity of Country Aruba under the responsibility of the local ministers, who therefore must countersign.

The only exception would be if the draft budget violated the Kingdom Charter, an international treaty, a Kingdom Law or Decree Containing General Measures. "That was not (yet) the case here," argued the council.

Eman reacted that also the current instruction for St. Maarten is not according to the rules and the Council of State at least could have given its opinion. However, he does not believe in sidelining the governor regarding the installing of cabinet members as proposed in a motion passed by Curaçao's Parliament.

Still, the Aruban prime minister insists that an "internal appeal" by the kingdom partner in question cannot rightfully be refused in such cases. He consequently supports the establishment of an independent dispute resolution entity.

Storytelling takes centre stage at Friday’s ‘Kids Night Out’

page11b134PHILIPSBURG--Beyond Writing Foundation (BWF) hosted this year's edition of Kids Night Out at Philipsburg Cultural and Community Centre on Friday evening.

Similar as during previous issues of this event, which started as an open-air theatrical picnic under the stars at Emilio Wilson Park, children and their parents enjoyed an evening of storytelling and reading, plays, music and dance but this time from the public gallery at the Cultural Centre.

Under the theme "Multicultural Island/Story Night," BWF presented a varied show to stimulate storytelling, reading and writing, which was hosted by moderators Anenda Zaandam and St. Maarten Senior Carnival Queen 2014 Bria Sorton.

The readings were alternated with performances by students of Charlotte Brookson Academy, Learning Unlimited and National Institute of Arts (NIA), as well as by a demonstration of taekwondo martial arts by Master Browne and two of his students.

Storytelling, however, was the main dish, to which master raconteur Papa Umpo added his distinct and unparalleled flavour with the story "Nora and the cherries," which was situated at the dry ditch in Colombier, French St. Martin.

Other readers for the evening included Tanya Powel-Stevens, who read from The Book with No Pictures, which not only proved to contain no photographs but also hardly any intelligible words.

Mature Carnival Queen Anna Rabess-Richardson and Teen Queen D'shnay York also read book fragments.

BWF organises storytelling events for the past 11 years. The foundation also publishes children's books and is the organiser of the Caribbean Living Statues Festival.

Founded and presided over by author of children's books Loekie Morales, BWF considers the telling of stories to be an integral part of Caribbean tradition, which should be kept alive. It, therefore, did not come as a surprise that Kids Night Out was closed off with a raffle of books for five lucky winners.

GEBE issues reconnection schedule for problem areas

PHILIPSBURG--GEBE has announced that the few homes that remained without electricity following the passing of Hurricane Gonzalo either were reconnected last night or are scheduled to be reconnected by October 27.

The company met with Minister of Infrastructure Maurice Lake yesterday afternoon to update him on these homes.

GEBE said restoration of power to problematic connections in St. Peters and South Reward had been planned and delivered on October 23. Power in Middle Region and Sucker Garden was scheduled for October 26, but also was restored October 23.

Madame Estate is scheduled for October 24; Dutch Quarter, Mount Willem Hill and Pointe Blanche for October 26; and Oyster Pond for October 27.

The company said updates would be made known.

High-tension cables have been taken down and have had to be completely restored, while low-tension cables also had to be restored in each case and reconnected to houses.

GEBE has issued releases through traditional and social media since Gonzalo, including sharing pictures, posts and video on Facebook, to which many clients had been referred for feedback because of the overwhelming number of calls experienced on the company’s hotline. Reports are still being taken.

“In order to alleviate the extraordinary amount of service calls after Gonzalo, supplementary numbers were provided for clients to call for assistance. In addition to the toll-free emergency number 1-844-432-3213, three additional numbers were added: 1-721-546-1189, 1-721-546-1193 and 1-721-544-3100. There was a huge amount of damage caused by Gonzalo, so it took time to get to each location,” a GEBE press release read.

The country’s sole electricity provider has been assuring the public that it is working around the clock to restore power, but some areas were affected by Gonzalo more than others, including Belvedere, Dutch Quarter and Middle Region. These have been given priority, but time frames for restoration vary. “The damage was widespread, so the restoration process will not be quick or easy,” a company press release read.

“We have a great team of people at NV GEBE who are committed to St. Maarten and the comfort and safety of its residents and visitors. Additional crews have also been hired to fortify the existing NV GEBE staff,” said Chief Financial Officer Rene Gartner.

Chief Operating Officer Romelio Maduro assured the community that GEBE was doing all it could do to make sure every client’s need was met.

The company services some 20,000 meter connections, the majority of which remained functional and maintained power throughout the hurricane. Most other electricity connections were restored quickly.

“I would like to apologise to the customers who have been without electricity to date. The damage caused by the passing of Hurricane Gonzalo was extensive with respect to overhead cables, high-tension and low-tension, which still remain aboveground,” said Minister Lake.

Four Canadian tourism deals gained this season

PHILIPSBURG--A number of Canada-based tourism suppliers have added newly-launched St. Maarten deals, including package trips, in addition to recently established additional direct flights.

The news comes in the midst of a second particularly successful year for St. Maarten and the Canadian market in terms of additional tourism arrivals.

The new Sonesta Ocean Point Resort that will launch next month has proven to be the most popular local player to team up with suppliers. Sunwing’s upcoming fall/winter programme now includes the new Sonesta Ocean Point Resort: a five-star, all-inclusive and adults-only resort opening November 27.

Sunwing has added a new weekly flight from Ottawa. The new flight is in addition to the airline’s two existing weekly flights departing from Montreal and Toronto on Thursdays and Sundays.

Westjet Vacations is the first tour operator in Canada to offer Simpson Bay Resort and Marina. Westjet also has added The Westin St. Maarten Dawn Beach Resort and Spa and Sonesta Ocean Point Resort to its St. Maarten programme. The airline has three weekly flights from Toronto and one from Montreal.

Air Canada Vacations has added a second weekly flight from Toronto. The Rouge flights depart on Saturdays and Tuesdays. Air Canada also has added Oyster Bay Beach Resort and the new Sonesta Ocean Point Resort to its fall/winter programme.

Transat Holidays’ upcoming seasonal programme now includes The Westin St. Maarten Dawn Beach Resort and Spa and Sonesta Ocean Point Resort. Transat recently added a weekly flight from Toronto, departing on Saturdays.

“We are very excited about the additional flights and resort programmes available to Canadians this season. St. Maarten is a diverse destination with many different types of accommodation styles, including boutique hotels, villas, suites, yachts and all-inclusive resorts. This season’s tour operator programmes reflect more of that diversity,” said Canada’s St. Maarten Tourist Office representative Catherine Pentiricci via press release.

“Tourists coming from Canada to St. Maarten are an important part of our tourism product,” added St. Maarten Tourist Bureau Interim Marketing Director Marla Chemont. “We are pleased that these Canadian tour operators are providing additional options making it easier for travellers to enjoy the island and all it has to offer.”

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