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Culprits that are involved in the shooting incidents will be prosecuted to the fullest extent.

PHILIPSBURG: --- Minister of Justice Lyndon Lewis on Wednesday made clear that culprits responsible for the recent shootings will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. He said the recent spike in gun violence has his immediate attention.

Lewis said he held several meetings since the shootings with the management of KPSM, the Prosecutor’s Office, and the Prison management to find solutions to the crime rate in St. Maarten.

The Minister of Justice said he discussed enforcing the laws to combat the crime rate in St. Maarten in his meetings with Chief Commissioner of Police Carl John and suggested that extra support be sought from Curacao for the upcoming snap elections.

The Minister said the increase in gun violence is not only disturbing but also destructive to the economy and the tourist product. As such, those who have chosen to mess with the bread and butter of the country will also face the full extent of the law.

LACK OF PRISON SPACE.

Asked what the status of the Pointe Balance Prison is and how he intends to address the lack of space at the prison. Lewis said that the repairs that are to be conducted by UNOPS will begin in January 2025. He said that, on Tuesday, he met with the prison management to address the capacity of the prison cells and the situation. It is what it is, and he is busy assessing the crimes committed and which prisoners would be eligible for early release. He said the discussion would continue later this week when the Chief Commissioner of Police and Prosecutor will be involved.

Lewis confirmed that the ankle bracelets will be used with the early release program.

The Minister of Justice also announced that while in the Netherlands, he was informed that St. Maarten is working too slowly and that people have been hindering the process. He said the Netherlands made NAF 2 million available for the prison project, and the country stands to lose it if the money is not utilized.

He said he is doing what is necessary to ensure that St. Maarten does not lose the funds by speeding up the project.

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