Legal Perspective

Legal Perspective (1180)

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten - The Judge of Instruction of Friday, February 24 deemed the arrest and detention of B.B. lawful.

This means that the Judge believes there are sufficient suspicions of involvement in bribing and human smuggling.

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten - The Joint Court of Justice on Wednesday, February 22, 2017 sentenced A.H. to 16 months to jail of which 8 months suspended with a probation period of 3 years for the possession of 2,904 XTC pills.

The Court of First Instance had sentenced A.H. On September 7, 2016 to 2 years in jail. During the hearing by the Joint Court of Justice the Solicitor General had asked again for a two year prison sentence.

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten - The Joint Court of Justice on Wednesday, February 22, 2017 sentenced R.D., the main suspect in the robbery of the Oro Diamante jewelry store on August5, 2015 to 25 years in jail. On May 4, 2016 the Court in First Instance had sentenced R.D. to 20 years in jail. The Attorney General had asked for 30 years in jail during the hearing of the appeal case 3 weeks ago.

R.D. was again found guilty of accessory to armed robbery, illegal firearm possession, aggravated manslaughter against police Officer Gamali Benjamin and attempted manslaughter against police officer Carty. The other suspect J.L. was sentenced by the Joint Court of Justice to 15 years in jail. He was found guilty of accessory to armed robbery, accessory to manslaughter, illegal firearm possession and jewelry laundering.

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten - J.R.O. was sentenced on Wednesday, February 22 by the Court of First Instance to 4 years in jail of which 1 suspended. He was found guilty of attempted manslaughter, threat and lechery. He stabbed Coca Cola Distributer CC1 Managing Director Iris Delgado in her office on Friday, August 19.

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten - The suspects L.G. (46), N.Z.V.G. (33), S.J.V.M. (36), S.G. (52), all born in the Dominican Republic appeared in front of the Judge of the Court of First Instance on Wednesday, February 22, 2017. They are suspects in a big brawl on Backstreet which took place on November 11, 2016. Reason for the brawl was a complaint filed by N.Z.V.G. against J.G.G.D. for rape/lechery of a minor.
 
Th Prosecutor believed it is legally and convincingly proven that the suspects N.Z.V.G. and L.G. are guilty of public violence and resisting arrest and asked for 60 hours of public service against them. Against the suspect S.J.V.M. the Prosecutor asked for 20 hours of public service for resisting arrest. Against S.G. the Prosecutor asked for 80 hours of community service for public violence, resisting arrest and theft.

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten – Conditions at St. Maarten’s Point Blanche prison facility continues to be a source of grave concerns. So says the Law Enforcement Council, following completion of a report presented on the 13th of January, last. As of Friday, 24th of February the report will be publicly available.

Prior to launching the latest inspection, the Council had already expressed its concerns regarding several aspects related to safety, security and general conditions at the facility. Incidents such as the escape of an inmate and the murder of another inmate were clear indications that the situations encountered were not reason for optimism.  

In September of 2016, the Law Enforcement Council announced three inspections of the detention facility, based upon a joint request made by the respective justice ministers within the Dutch Kingdom (‘JVO’) to monitor the recommendations made by the CPT (the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and inhumane or degrading treatment).

The first inspection was conducted in October 2016, followed by its report that was presented to the Minister of Justice in January.

In this latest report, the Council inspected the legal status of prisoners, based on nine national and international criteria. In general, the Council concludes that the legal status of prisoners is not, or is not sufficiently, guaranteed in the Pointe Blanche prison and remand center. The Council stresses that, in the short term, the focus should be on the various topics that need to be addressed to meet the minimal requirements of acceptable standards.

The Council concludes, with the necessary regret, that the situation has only become worse since the findings of its report completed in 2014.

The Council additionally inspected key aspects related to prison personnel and of the organization itself. The shortage of personnel, lack of training, lack of communication, an integrity policy which is still in draft form, the lack of a clear direction of the prison and the role of the employees overall, all have an adverse effect on the functioning of the organization and a negative effect on the quality of the primary process of detention. Basic necessities that are essential for the closed setting of a prison are missing. These include a functional wall around the prison area, functional locks as well as safety equipment to be used while working. The Council, basically, found various shortcomings of conditions and resources that a prison organization requires to ensure a healthy living and working environment, for inmates and personnel respectively.

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In its report, the Law Enforcement Council also incorporated the 13 recommendations made by the CPT in 2015, for the explicit purpose of contributing to compliance with international standards and much needed improvements. The Council concludes that the country of Sint Maarten has virtually not acted on any of the CPT’s recommendations.

It should be obvious that the non-compliance with minimal national and international standards and regulations, and all difficulties which the prison is facing, go far beyond the reach of that organization and perhaps even the country itself. Beyond this, the Council stresses that the serious consequences of these issues do not only imply the responsibilities of the country of St. Maarten but those of the Dutch Kingdom as well.

Following its most recent endeavors, the Council has made 18 recommendations, including one to follow-up on the CPT’s recommendations, earlier mentioned.

The Council has had constructive meetings with the minister of Justice regarding the precarious situation at the Point Blanche detention facility.

While the attention needed by government, has often been sporadic and not led to decisive action, the Council encourages that the prison is currently one of the top priorities of the minister of Justice.

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten - On Wednesday morning, February 22, 2017 the suspect B.B. (..) has been arrested in the Ostrich-investigation. She is suspected of bribing one or more immigration officials and human smuggling. The arrest is part of a lengthy investigation that has been ongoing since April 2016, code-named Ostrich.

It concerns an investigation carried out by the Unit Human Trafficking and Human Smuggling of the St. Maarten Police Force, KPSM into illegal admittance of amongst others Jamaicans, Haitians and Guyanese.

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten - Members of the St. Maarten Police Force and the Kingdom Detectives Cooperation Team (RST) led by the Prosecutor’s Office and in the presence of the investigative judge held two house searches in Pointe Blanche and in Belvedere on Tuesday afternoon, February 21, 2017. Two suspects H.H.M. (22) and H.F.M. (25) were arrested. Also digital data carriers and documents were confiscated.

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten - In light of the ongoing investigation code-named “MARS” a house search took place on Tuesday, February 21, 2017 early in the morning in Dutch Quarter. The investigation was led by the Prosecutor’s Office in collaboration with members of the St. Maarten Police Force (KPSM) and the Detectives Cooperation Team (RST) and in the presence of an investigative Judge.

During the search the suspect K.K.K.S. (31) was arrested. She is suspected in the MARS- investigation into the disappearance of the two men S. L. Sarante-Diaz and E. Rosario. Both men were last seen in the afternoon of Monday, December 5th 2016 in the vicinity of Simpson Bay Resort at "Pelican". Since then, nothing was heard from them. Digital data carriers and documents were also confiscated during the search.

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten - The Prosecutor’s Office in good collaboration with the St. Maarten Police Force (KPSM), the Kingdom Detectives Cooperation Team (RST) and the French Authorities is actively searching for escaped prisoner Kathron “Kuchi” Fortune born on October 14, 1977 on the island of Grenada. He is sentenced to imprisonment at the Point Blanche prison for murder, but escaped from prison guards who had taken him for a doctor's visit in Cay Hill on February 15, 2016.

A lot of effort is being done by both Dutch and French authorities to catch “Kuchi” since there is concrete information that “Kuchi” is still on St. Maarten. In the past weeks extra efforts have been taking place in the hunt for “Kuchi, some of which may have been visible to the public. Recapturing “Kuchi” has always been one of the priorities of all justice authorities.

It is important to know that harboring "Kuchi" - or for that matter any other fugitive of the law - or helping him to escape from justice is a serious crime and punishable by law. This type of assistance will lead to the arrest and prosecution of those who make themselves guilty of assisting “Kuchi”.

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