PM Rutte snubs St. Maarten MP named in bribery scandal
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte refused to receive a visiting parliamentary delegation from St. Maarten on Wednesday, if its independent Member (MP) Patrick Illidge would be present.
Illidge is suspected of having accepted US$150,000 in bribes from brothel owner Jaap van den Heuvel between October 2010 and September 2013. The two had been caught on video during one of their transactions; the video went viral on Youtube.
According to Government Information Service RVD head Henk Brons, Rutte refused to receive Illidge because the parliamentarian had not appeared at a May 5 pro-forma Court session in St. Maarten, during which the Prosecutor's Office announced the charges against him: bribery and illegal weapon possession.
"The Prime Minister has indicated that he was most willing to receive the Parliamentary delegation, but not if Illidge would be with them. It is not because Illidge is a suspect, but because he didn't respond to an order of the Judge to appear in Court and as such he did not make use of the opportunity to clear his name," Brons said.
Illidge is in the Netherlands to take part in an Inter-Parliamentary Consultation of the Kingdom IPKO.
IPKO Chairman Jeroen Recourt said the delegations had decided unanimously not to visit with the Prime Minister if Illidge would not be present. "Because we can't guarantee that Illidge wouldn't be part, as this is up to the St. Maarten delegation, we have decided to forego the courtesy visit to the Prime Minister," said Recourt.
St. Maarten Parliament Kingdom Relations Committee Chairman Roy Marlin questioned said Rutte had not acted very tactfully. He said it was not fair that through his stance, Rutte also indirectly had turned down the Aruba and Curaçao delegations from paying him a courtesy visit. About Illidge, Marlin said: "We live in a democracy and he is still a Member of Parliament."