Legal Perspective

Legal Perspective (942)

PHILIPSURG, St. Maarten - Some five (5) prison officers at the Point Blanche Prison were sent home by the management team of the institution on Monday. Seemingly, those guards are under investigation by the Federal Detective Department.

However, the nature of the enquiry is yet to be revealed to the guards.

It is for this reason the officers were ordered back to work on Wednesday by the ABVO, the union representing the employees.

Upon arrival at the prison on Wednesday morning, the guards were barred from entering the premises, which led to the intervention of the union.

Speaking to our news department on Wednesday morning, Vice President of the ABVO union, Lyndon Lewis told us the right procedures and guidelines as is required by law to send the prison guards home were not followed by the management team at the prison.

According to him, the Minister of Justice the Honorable Edson Kiringdongo has not put in writing as to the reason the guards are being sent home.

He also noted that if the situation persists, they will have to seek legal representation in taking the government to court.

More now via PodCast.

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten - The Fraud Department of the police force is presently investigating a case concerning the stealing of checks from a local business.

These checks were probably stolen by one of the employees.

These checks which were made up for a considerable amount were cashed possibly by a third party.

Three persons were arrested between Friday May 13th and Monday May 16th 2016, as suspects in this investigation.

One suspect has been released while two other remain in custody for further investigation.

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad – President of the Public Service Association (PSA), Watson Duke, is due to appear in court on Monday charged with five offences arising from an allegation by an unidentified lawyer that she had been sexually assaulted by him in a hotel room last week.

Duke, who gave himself up to police last Thursday, was charged late Sunday night following directions from the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).

Duke has denied the allegations and in a statement last week said “these allegations are absolutely untrue and I intend to defend myself vigorously.

“I have communicated my intention to my family, my lawyers and to the appropriate authorities to cooperate fully with a proper police investigation in the matter.

“I therefore reserve more extensive comments on the situation to a more appropriate time. I remain committed to delivering on the mandate given by my membership to improve the lives of public servants around the country and to carry out my duties as committed without bias,” he added.

Duke, who walked into the police station accompanied by his lawyer, is accused by the 33-year-old unidentified lawyer of sexually assaulting her at the Hyatt Regency hotel on Tuesday.

The woman told police that she was taken to a room where she was expected to have been attending a meeting and sexually assaulted.

In his statement, Duke said that he will “defend my reputation as necessary and appropriate and would like to thank those who have reached out to help on this matter”.

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten - A male suspect with initials R.O.N.R. was arrested by police on the Walther Plantz Square on Wednesday May 11th 08.35 p.m.

This arrest was made based on a warrant for his arrest as a suspect in numerous serious criminal activities such as, armed robbery and rape.

At the moment the suspect realized that the police was about the approach him, he took off running to avoid his capture. A warning shot was fired by police.

The suspect did not stop and continued fleeing. While running away the suspect lost his footing on two occasions causing him fall to ground. As a result of this the suspect sustained injuries to his face.

The suspect also resisted heavily against his arrest, but was quickly brought under control by the arresting officers.

He was taken to the Philipsburg Police Station for further investigation. At the police station the suspect was treated by paramedics for the injuries he sustained and then taken to the Sint Maarten Medical Center for further treatment.

After treatment the suspect was brought back to the police station where he remains in custody.

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten - A male suspect well-known to police with initials A.F.A has been arrested on Tuesday May 10th 2016 at approximately 09.30 p.m. in connection with an ongoing attempted assault with a deadly weapon, attempted manslaughter and possession of illegal drugs investigation.

A warrant for his arrest was issued by the Public Prosecutors Office.

The incident took place on January 23rd of this year on the Soualiga Boulevard in the vicinity of the Festival Village in Philipsburg.

While conducting a search of the suspect a large kitchen knife and 16 small plastic bags each containing an amount of marihuana, prepared for distribution, was found and confiscated for further investigation.

The suspect remains in custody as the investigation continues.

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.

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