TIME BETTER SPENT
There is an old expression that I know from England. As children we would run round the playground at school singing "Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me".
Whilst I sat in the courtroom, in the usual silence that is demanded in these places where judgment takes place, my mind started wandering. The judge had not entered the room yet. I was there for two reasons. The first was to report on the accusations of slander.
Senator Jopie Abraham was trying to defend his good name in the Courtsfrom an accusation of influence peddling by a Dutch developer, Niek Sandmann. (See the issue of The Bonaire Reporter, dated February 14-21, 2003, page 6, "Developer Defends His Name.") Niek Sandmann's lawyer was there to do the same for the developer.
Jopie Abraham is an elegant and charismatic man whom I have seen conduct himself at the sessions of the Island Council in a most efficient manner. Most memorable of these was over the issue of foreign companies fishing our waters, under an Antillean flag, so that they could totally exploit our country's marine resources and the coastal waters of Bonaire. Senator Abraham was able to persuade the Council to reach a unanimous decision to forbid this.
Now I sat in the courtroom in silent frustration. I could only feel sympathy for the Senator who had to sit in silence whilst he listened to the defense that his council would lay out.
The judge entered the room; we all stood in respect for the Court. Suddenly I knew what was missing from this story- "RESPECT." I felt a certain pride as I sat down with the Abraham family to watch the case unfold. The Abraham name has been known in Bonaire and the Antillean politics for many years. Jopie's father, Julio Abraham, was a key founder of the Democratic Party on Bonaire.
As I said earlier, I was here for two reasons. The second was to see why we were taking time away from such an important issue like the future of the Bonairean fishing culture to deal with this childish attack exchange of accusations.
A quick look round the room gave me a head count of some 20 professional people and family who had come to support the senator and of course a few who had not. The fact that all these people were here and not going about their daily business was not a plus factor.
I do not wish to attack either party; however, I would like to point out two things.
The first is that maybe there are better ways to invest in the island than just provide financial development and that perhaps we would all be a lot better of if we started to deal with the issues that will affect our children for example, preserving the environment.
Sean "Our Confidence"
Editors Note: Judge H. Zandbergen handed down a verdict on Monday, March 10, regarding the cross accusations of slander and defamation of character. The evidence in the lawsuit was a collection of facts and statements from published interviews, radio shows or press releases.
Abraham denied the accusations against him and said these had been made to damage his name as an elected official. Sandmann said the same, in defense of his reputation as a businessman and investor.
The judge said that it was his opinion that neither party suffered serious damage to their public images and so no damages or reparations would be ordered.