Jaap van den Heuvel's legal team seeks full acquittal

PHILIPSBURG--Lunteren NV director Jaap van den Heuvel's legal defence team provided a big stack of papers and needed four hours of pleadings on Thursday in their efforts to seek the Bada Bing nightclub owner's acquittal on eight charges, including bribery, money laundering and trafficking of women.
 
As one of the two main suspects in the so-called "Orca" investigations, Van den Heuvel (49) is facing four years' imprisonment. Lunteren NV is facing a NAf. 1.5 million fine.
 
Attorney Cor Merx opened the defence with extensive pleadings to have the Prosecutor's case against his client declared inadmissible. He said his client had lost the right to a fair trial because his rights had been flagrantly violated by the Prosecutor's Office during the investigations in this case.
For instance, Merx pointed at the fact that Van den Heuvel had spent 18 days in pre-trial detention, whereas his co-suspect, former Member of Parliament MP Patrick Illidge, had been detained for only 10 days.
 
Merx claimed that money laundering had been added to the charge only because this alleged crime allowed the Prosecutor to keep his client in detention, as this crime carries a six-year sentence. Merx also contested the legality of house searches and telephone taps.
 
As to the alleged bribery of MP Illidge, Merx said it remained unclear for what services his client would have made payments. "Is it forbidden to ask a minister for a permit or for the state of affairs concerning a permit? Is it forbidden to ask an MP if he could verify the status of a permit, or something like that?"
 
Merx dismissed bribery as insufficiently substantiated. He said the requests had not violated Illidge's duty as an MP. He also contested that Van den Heuvel had wanted to gain Illidge's favour, as the two were in fact long-time friends.
 
As to the charge that Van den Heuvel had been involved in the trafficking of women between August 1 and October 13, 2013, Merx largely followed the pleadings of his colleague Geert Hatzmann in the case of Bada Bing manager K.E.v.d.B.
 
Merx said the women had not been forced to work at Bada Bing and had not been exploited. To the contrary, they had enjoyed it and earned a lot of money to pay their debts in the Dominican Republic, he stated.
Like his colleague, Merx also pointed out that the women had sent such large amounts via money transfer that these had been reported as unusual transactions to Unusual Financial Transactions Bureau MOT.
 
Merx also called for acquittal on the forgery charge and denied his client had falsified a commercial lease agreement by providing it with a fake signature.
 
Van den Heuvel also is charged with failure to file profit and turnover tax returns between 2008 and 2011. Tax lawyer Eric Jansen presented pleadings in which it was stated that whereas tax evasion is punishable by law, failure to file tax returns is not.
 
The tax attorney also contested the money-laundering charge. The Bada Bing owner was accused of laundering NAf. 1,767,031 in criminal money, which is equal to the amount he had failed to report to the tax office. As a suspect cannot be tried for the same crime twice, the Judge was requested to throw out the money-laundering charge.
 
Besides, government had chosen not only to impose additional tax collections with fines, but also to prosecute Lunteren NV criminally in court, which is against the law. Jansen ended his pleadings by stating that in the meantime Lunteren had contested these assessments and the administrative fines with the tax inspector.
 
The Daily Herald
 
 
In this case Jaap van den Heuvel is represented by attorney Cor Merx of Cor Merx Legal Services and tax lawyer Gert Bergman of BZSE Attorneys at Law l Tax Lawyers Sint Maarten. 
Patrick Illidge is represented by attorney at law Ralph Richardson of Richardson & Nicolaas and tax lawyer Erik Jansen of BZSE Attorneys at Law l Tax Lawyers.
Krijn van der Brug is represented by lawyer Geert Hatzmann of Bermon Law Office.
 
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