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March 19, 2008

Aruban Police Act Faster with Hit & Run Incident than they Did With Disappearance of Natalee Holloway

Posted in: Amigoe,Aruba,Corruption,Crime,Natalee Holloway

Police Priorities in Aruba …

Here is a sense of priority in Aruba. The police acted faster and made an arrest immediately after former Justice Minister Hendrick Croes was involved in a hit and run incident than they did after Alabama teen Natalee Holloway went missing. Its a good thing that there were not any black security guards near by where the incident took place. However, in Aruba they refuse to make an arrest an prosecution for all the wrong reason.

Hendrik Croes detained after colliding with a police officer (Amigoe: 3/17/2008)

Lawyer Hendrik Croes while leaving the airport after having made a statement about the possible hit and run-accident with a police officer.

ORANJESTAD – Lawyer and former Justice-minister Hendrik Croes was taken into custody early this morning for having collided with a police officer on Sunday in the afternoon and failed to stop after the accident.  The situation escalated yesterday when police union SPA incited her members to ‘bring everything to a standstill’ if Croes is not arrested.  The Public Prosecutor (OM) called on everybody to ‘stay calm’, especially the parties in the labour dispute between the government and the public employees’ unions. 

The incident took place on the roundabout of Paradera around 15:00.  At that moment, the long autocade that was taking part in the protest of the public employees’ unions against the government was just passing.  A total of 120 cars with protesting public servants took part in the auto rally that was accompanied by two police cars.  One of the police officers, Edgar Maduro, started to regulate the traffic on the roundabout.  He said that at a certain point, he saw a grey car heading for him.  When he gave the stop signal, the driver refused to stop.  “I was picked off by the car.  I opened the car door and held to it, so I couldn’t fall.  The car kept on going.”  The police officer had several bruises on his ankle, knee, and ribs.  Some colleagues took him to the hospital, and he went home after treatments, but had to be admitted later that day.

Croes in the back of the National detective’s car on his way to the bureau, where he’s going to be interrogated.  He was taken to KIA a few hours later.

Maduro self didn’t realize that the driver was Hendrik Croes, but the onlookers did.  Also the media got wind of the incident real fast and some stations linked the accident to the strike of the public employees as an attempt of the government to break the strike.  When Croes, as he said, ‘heard sensational reports about him being accused of attempted murder’, he called chief district attorney Hand Mos to give a statement.  He was at that moment at the airport, going on vacation.  Chief of police Dolfi Richardson and assistant district attorney Robert Candelaria went to the airport to take Croes’ statement.  Croes then decided to stay on the island and no longer set off.

However, a big group of police officers were not satisfied with the fact that Croes was not arrested. Miguel Maduro of union SPA called a special meeting with the members of the union and the other sympathizing officers in the clubhouse Pova.  “The law is for everybody.  A person that hits and runs is usually arrested right away.  This was an attempt to serious assault and even an attempted homicide.  I told the chief of police that if Hendrik is not arrested, we will bring everything to a standstill.”  Chief of police Peter de Witte was clearly not taken with the threat and told Maduro this later.  “The police must act objectively and transparently and let the OM do his job independently.”  In order to guarantee the objectivity, he advised the OM to transfer the case to the National-detectives, which indeed happened and Croes was taken to the bureau for interrogation.  Based on this interrogation and statements from witnesses, chief district attorney decided to take Croes into custody.  He was taken to KIA around 05:00 this morning.  He must stay there for at least 48 hours, after which the OM will decide whether to request an extension of the custody with the examining magistrate.  

Croes’ son, Eduard has meanwhile indicated that the family is preparing a lawsuit to release Hendrik from custody.  Before he was arrested, Croes emotionally declared on TeleAruba that this ‘is not something to laugh about but to cry’.  He denies having run down anybody.  “I was the third car to get on the roundabout, when a person, if I am not mistaken, wearing a polo shirt and long pants, started to regulate the traffic.  I indicated that I was going to the direction of Tanki Leendert and was trying my best to drive around this person.”  Croes also doesn’t understand how he could have hit this police officer with his car.  I was driving dead slow.  I also didn’t know that the person was a police officer.  He didn’t identify himself.”  Maduro was indeed not in uniform, but he was wearing a badge.  

Croes was not happy with certain media’s ‘very sensational reports’.  He also referred to a recent incident, where AVP-leader Mike Eman cursed him for his role in the corruption scandal Fondo Desaroyo Nobo.  “I do not understand why all this must happen this way.”

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