Legal Perspective

Legal Perspective (937)

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten - The Prosecutor's office lodged an appeal on Thursday against the verdict of the accused O.A.C. in the "Menam" case.

He was acquitted by the Court of First Instance of all charges regarding his involvement in a robbery on August 5th, 2015 at Oro Diamante jewelry shop on Font Street.

The Prosecutor's Office does not agree with the acquittal and believes there is sufficient evidence to proof that O.A.C. participated in the planning of the robbery.

WILLEMSTAD, Curacao - Lottery offices across the island of Curacao were raided on Monday by various control arms of the government and the law.

The very popular Robbie’s Lottery was among the instances that were raided on Monday.

As we hear in this report from Gonzalo Cuales of Z86 radio in Willemstad, a number of lottery books that seemingly in some way are connected to the sales tax on Curacao, were seized.

More now via PodCast.

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten - The time is getting shorter for the Prosecutors office to properly prepare its formal appeal in the "Menam" case.

This case involves the murder of police officer Benjamin Gamili in the line of duty as he along with other colleagues intercepted an on-going robbery of a jewelry store on Fronstreet during the midday hours of Wednesday August 5th 2015.

Although the verdict in this case was rendered verbally on May 5th in the court of first instance St. Maarten, the written version has not yet been officially released.

The prosecutors office has two weeks from May 5th in which to lodge their appeal, an appeal which was lodged on the same day that the verdict was announced by the judge. However it is impossible for the prosecution to prepare an appeal against the two main suspects without the written verdict and it is also not customary that they wait for two weeks before receiving it.

We have now learnt that the written verdict will only be available some time next week.

This will mean that the prosecutors office would not be in a position to study the case before before their appeal, a fact that could have serious consequences for on the quality of their appeal case as they cannot prepare for their formal appeal.

The St. Maarten community was shocked by the light verdicts that was handed down by the Judge in this case with the trigger man only receiving 20 years as opposed to the life time sentence that was requested by the prosecutors for the killing of the on-duty police officer.

This was also the first killing of a police officer in the line of duty on St. Maarten.

the killer also fired on another police officer who responded to the robbery call but he survived. It was noted that it could have been easily two officers dead on that day as a result of the killers bullets.

The verdict has also hit members of the police force of St. Maarten hard as they have to face these criminals on a daily basis.

A statement from the court on Wednesday states, 'unlike usual is the case in St. Maarten that immediately after a ruling in a criminal case a copy of the verdict (with or without the detailed evidence ) in writing can be obtained, in the Menam case this has not been the case". "The reason for this lies in the scope of the case and the, although legal but in fact relatively short interval of time to put the verdict fully to writing". "However the press, when the judge gave its ruling, could already take notice of of the reasons which led to the already known decisions". "From the handling judge it could be understood that the verdicts in writing will be ready by next week at the latest'.

There has been no further word from the prosecutors office on the lack of proper preparation of their appeal and the implications that this could have on the process to get appropriate justice for the fallen police officer, his immediate family, the police family and the community of St. Maarten.

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten - Today, the Court of First Instance ruled against the defendants R. D., J. L., M.H.A. and O.A.C. in the Menam case.

It is an investigation into an armed robbery that was committed in broad daylight on August 5, 2015 at Oro Diamante jewelery shop on Front Street. Police officer Gamali Benjamin was shot that day while exercising his duties and died of the injuries he sustained. Also the police officer Carty was shot at.

The Court of First Instance sentenced the main suspects R. D. and J.L. to prison terms of 20 and 8 years, respectively, with deduction of the time spent in custody. Against R.D. the prosecution had demanded life imprisonment and for J.L. a prison sentence of 25 years.

The Prosecutor’s Office is disappointed and does not agree with these rulings. The Prosecutor’s Office has lodged an appeal against the verdicts of the two main suspects. In the opinion of the prosecution the penalties do not reflect that it concerns a police officer who was shot instantly when he tried to stop the robbery.

In the case of J.L. the Prosecutor’s Office disagrees with the sentence and with acquittal of a number of facts in the indictment such as qualified homicide and attempted qualified homicide.

Regarding the co-suspects M.H.A. and O.A.C. who respectively received 2.5 years in prison and acquittal, the Prosecutor’s Office has these sentences still under consideration and has 14 days to decide whether to also appeal against those verdicts.

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten - President of Parliament MP Sarah Wescot-Williams has dispatched questions to TEATT Minister Ingrid Arrindell pertaining to the recently corroborated reports of fraud in the KITLV survey carried out on St. Maarten by “seasoned interviewers” hired as independent interviewers via the STAT department. 

In her letter to the Minister, MP Wescot-Williams questioned what if any actions would be taken by the STAT department and whether it is STAT’s intention to revisit previous surveys done on St. Maarten by (some of) these interviewers, such as the population census or any other survey.

MP Wescot-Williams is of the opinion that at this stage it is important that St. Maarten too gets an indication of how persons view and feel about the new constitutional status. 

“Such a survey should however be combined with other socio-political questions that can provide an impression of the general sentiments of the population” the MP stated.

WILLEMSTAD, Curacao - Five new lawyers have joined VanEps Kunneman VanDoorne since the beginning of this year already. Junior associates Sixiènne Janssen, Carlos Winkel and Navid Zahedi started at the office in Curaçao.

There, they were accompanied by experienced lawyer Daan Jacobs, who joined from the Dutch office Nauta Dutilh. Junior associate Lorena Navia is the newest member of the team of VanEps Kunneman VanDoorne in Bonaire.

On Tuesday 5 April, the first lawyer in this series of newcomers was sworn in by the Common Court of Justice of Aruba, Curaçao and St. Maarten, and of Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba.

Sixiènne Janssen, who started in February of this year in the Corporate & Banking department, obtained her Masters Transnational Legal Studies and Contract Law at the VU University Amsterdam in 2013.

After graduation, she worked as a legal consultant for Deloitte NL for more than a year. Subsequently, she chose to continue her career at VanEps Kunneman VanDoorne in Curaçao.

sixiènne deliberately chose to switch from a role as legal consultant to that of attorney at law. “As a legal consultant, I could not represent any clients in legal proceedings. Nor could I issue any legal opinions or draw up agreements.

Although I enjoyed being a legal consultant, I was not trained to be an all-round and thorough legal adviser and representative of my clients. I do get that training at VanEps Kunneman VanDoorne, due to which I can give better substance to my ambitions.” The administration of the oath was a special moment for Sixiènne. “By taking the oath my switch from being a lawyer to being an attorney at law is official.

In addition, I thought it was very nice that I could share this moment with my colleagues, friends and my relatives originating from Curaçao.”

WILLEMSTAD, Curacao - Last Friday the court of first instance on Curacao ruled that lottery boss Robbie Dos Santos will have to pay a fine in the case of money laundering that was brought against him.

Apart from a fine, 72.5 million guilders was confiscated from the businessman accounts.

As we hear in this report from Gonzalo Cuales of Z86 radio in Willemstad, questions are now being raised as to if the lottery boss will appeal the verdict of the court.

More now via PodCast.

PORT-OF-SPAIN, Trinidad – Trinidad and Tobago has established a registry for sex offenders, but National Security Minister Edmund Dillon said it would only be available to the police.

Dillon told legislators Friday that the registry was established on December 22 last year by the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service (TTPS).

“This electronic registry is intended to maintain a report of the particulars of sex offenders who have been mandated by the court to give notification. This information will be maintained in a registry to be accessed by authorised officers and investigators in the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service only,” he told Parliament.

He said the police were now engaged in a training and sensitisation exercise with respect to operation of the registry and accessibility to it, as well as restructuring staff requirements to facilitate its requirement.

“Full implementation of the sex offender’s registry and the accompanying station sex offender registry across all nine police divisions will be implemented by June 2016.”

Dillion said he did not believe that it would be better to have public access to facilitate the protection of children, saying “I believe it is designed for police information only and not for the public”.

BES islands - The management of the Dutch Caribbean Police Force is pleased to announce that the crime rates generally show a declining trend on Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba.

Recently KPCN, together with the Public Prosecutor’s Office, presented the crime figures for 2015 to both the Executive Council, Island Council and the press on Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba.

The realization that the increase or decrease in crime has multiple factors, is there. But there is no denying that the police deployment is an important factor.

The figures for last year show a clear downward trend, despite the fact that KPCN is dealing with a tight occupation.

Given the figures, it can be concluded that in 2015 the number of road accidents involving injuries declined slightly while the number of traffic accidents with only damage increased slightly on Bonaire.

Robberies have declined by 39% and halved compared with 2013. Threats and domestic violence shows a decrease of about 25% and cases of assault, public violence and murder/manslaughter remained unchanged.

Domestic burglaries have seen a decline of 13%, while business burglaries increased by 40%. The total number of property crimes decreased by 29%. Drug-related offenses have remained the same.

The number of traffic accidents in 2015 on St. Eustatius shows that they have remained stable. In 2015 there were eight accidents with injuries.

In 2015, one robbery was committed compared to 3 in 2014; abuse cases have remained stable. Domestic violence and sexual offenses have declined by 50%.

Domestic burglaries have seen a decline of 50%, but an increase of 50% can be seen in business burglaries. The total number of property crimes increased slightly. There is also a notable increase in theft of motor vehicles and scooters. The drug-related offenses remained stable. At the end of 2015 a group of minors who are suspected of a series of robberies were detained.

Saba has seen a drop in road accidents by 50% and a decrease of 60% in abuse cases. Threats have also decreased by approximately 35% while domestic violence cases have decreased by 23%. Unfortunately, there was a victim in a murder case.

It can be seen that the number of burglaries have decreased by 50%, and that the business burglaries are steady at 0. The total number of property crimes has decreased again, but there is a notable increase in theft of motor vehicles.

The decrease of one type of crime is more visible than another. KPCN, together with all chain partners, will pay special attention in the coming year/years to reverse this trend.

WILLEMSTAD, Curacao - International publisher Chambers & Partners has launched the 2016-edition of its global ranking of law firms – Chambers Global. This year, six Dutch Caribbean law firms and thirteen individual lawyers have been ranked in bands from 1 to 6 (with 1 being the best).

Spigt Dutch Caribbean and VanEps Kunneman VanDoorne are the two firms with the desired Band 1 firm status, like last year. VanEps Kunneman VanDoorne is the only firm with four individually ranked lawyers. HBN Law has two ranked attorneys and all other firms have one ranked lawyer.

VanEps Kunneman VanDoorne is described by Chambers as "a highly regarded firm that provides a full range of legal services across the Dutch Caribbean […]. The commercial and litigation team has experience in complex, high-profile matters, […].” Spigt Dutch Caribbean is described as a firm that "offers expert advice in litigation as well as commercial, tax and finance matters. The firm has substantial experience in the banking and insurance fields as well as in major corporate acquisitions.” The other ranked firms are HBN Law, SMS Attorneys at Law, Soliana Bonapart & Aardenburg and STvB.

Chambers & Partners also ranks individuals. This year, thirteen lawyers receive this honorable praise. Five of this elite group of lawyers are partners at Band 1 firms VanEps Kunneman VanDoorne (4) and Spigt Dutch Caribbean (1). New this year is that both Aruba and Bonaire have their first ranked lawyer. The individually ranked lawyers in Band 1 are: Randolph van Eps (VanEps Kunneman VanDoorne), Karel Frielink (BZSE Attorneys at Law), Frank Kunneman (VanEps Kunneman VanDoorne), Eric de Vries (HBN Law) and Martijn Welten (Spigt Dutch Caribbean).

The annual global ranking is based on recommendations of clients and peers, supported by database research, and therefore offers an independent evaluation for organizations that are looking to instruct a lawyer.

More information and the rankings can be found on www.dutchcaribbeanlegalportal.com and www.chambersandpartners.com.

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