Solicitor-General Taco Stein retires

PHILIPSBURG - Solicitor-General Taco Stein is 65 years old and has to retire according to the law. He held the position for four years. The Prosecutor’s Office hosted a farewell reception at Holland House on Front Street on Friday evening.
 
However, Stein is not in a hurry to go anywhere. “I am not leaving. I love St. Maarten. I consider this my home. My wife and I will live here half of the year and the other half we will be in the Netherlands,” Stein said in an invited comment.
 
He clearly is proud of his work as Sint Maarten’s first Solicitor-General. “The job was good to set up. When I was hired there was nothing and now they have a good office that is functioning very well,” said Stein in an invited comment.
 
Members of Parliament Theo Heyliger, Tamara Leonard and Parliament Chairwoman Sarah Wescot-Williams were on hand for the occasion. Minister of Justice Richard Gibson also was present during the ceremony.
 
Stein’s appointment as Solicitor-General was the result of negotiations during the constitutional change process and the completion of an 18-month selection process that concluded with the appointment being approved in the Kingdom Council of Ministers on February 27, 2012
 
“The past 25 years you have served for a long time in different capacities,” Attorney-General Guus Schram said in his address to Stein. “First a prosecutor, then moving up to Chief Prosecutor and for the past four years Solicitor-General of St. Maarten. You also held the same function in Aruba.”
Stein started his career at the Dutch Prosecution Service in Middelburg in 1983. Six years later he moved on to Rotterdam, where he worked on fraud cases. Stein was also one of the prosecutors who had as his main task the fight against cybercrime.
 
Schram continued his speech, “All these years you’ve been through a lot and have seen change on the island. You were here in September ’95 for Hurricane Luis mercilessly thrashing, and for which many opted to leave to go back to the Netherlands, but you stayed here and helped build back up the island.
 
“Years later you held the role of Chief Prosecutor of St. Maarten after turbulent times. As Solicitor-General finally you have shown to be a true pioneer. Taco, you have become a true island man, someone who is part of the local community with a great sensitivity of what is happening in that society, someone with a strong connection to people and the wellbeing of this island.
 
“You are appreciated by many. Walking through Front Street, driving in the car or on your Harley, waiting at the airport, always and everywhere people that see you without exception will greet you warmly, from politicians and ministers, business contacts and friends, also to ex-offenders you’ve ever locked up but nevertheless they hold no grudge. As you always say with a grin, ‘You do the crime, you do the time.’”
 
Justice officials were seen speaking to Stein during the reception, thanking him for his service to the island and Stein kept telling them that he was not going anywhere.
 
Schram noted that point in his closing remarks: “You will now enjoy a well-deserved retirement. I understand that you love Sint Maarten and will not completely abandon it, but you chose the best of both worlds: Summers spent in the Netherlands with your children and grandchildren, and the months when it is reversed by harsher and bleaker weather, you leave for your beloved Friendly Island. I am convinced that St. Maarten will continue to receive you with open arms.”
 
Stein told The Daily Herald, “It’s mixed emotions and I am here for 15 years, but I will be around, no worries. The past four years have been very good and I was fortunate to hire good staff. We don’t know who will be my successor, but I know that the person will be somebody good.
 
“We are well underway, but we are not there yet, but we are getting there,” he added. “We have a new penal code; we have a new criminal procedure code that is on its way to be approved by Parliament. It will take some time for the draft law to be approved, because all countries in the Kingdom have to agree, but I know that the law is a good draft and will hopefully get the approval from everybody.”
 
He admitted that he would miss his position.
 
A new Solicitor-General will be appointed for St. Maarten by April 1.

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