Published On: Wed, Jan 2nd, 2013

Duncan: No pulling of plug in Shigemoto case

PHILIPSBURG – It is customary in the Dutch Caribbean justice system for the Justice Minister not to be involved in individual cases under investigation or trial, Justice Minister Roland Duncan said recently in response to talk in the community that he could "pull the plug" on the ongoing case involving former finance minister Hiro Shigemoto, who is his relative.

Duncan said what he demanded from the Attorney-General, Prosecutor's Office and the entire Justice system was that they spend the monies budgeted to their offices properly.

"While I would not get involved in the day-to-day individual cases, at the end of the day I want to know what you have done with the money that I made available to you."

Shigemoto was arrested mid-December on suspicion of fraud, money-laundering and embezzlement. He was held in custody for several days before being released on Christmas Eve under the condition that he would be available for questioning by authorities.

Shigemoto is suspected of making double payments to a company that provided services to government.

Duncan said that if he pulled the plug on the case "to protect him," that would be only on the short term and would require a long legal process. "If I do it and pull the plug on a legal case, the person's integrity, his character, will always be smudged, because it could always be said that he was guilty, but he got saved.

"Also, the country's reputation would be soiled should the Justice Minister move to end an investigation into a case involving his son-in-law. It then could be said that there is nepotism here in St. Maarten. Then the whole country would become a banana republic, because the Justice Minister stepped in to save someone."

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