By Today Newspaper
GREAT BAY – The three Syrians who were arrested at the Princess Juliana International Airport on November 14 were basically sent away with a flea in their ear by the Court in First Instance yesterday morning. For traveling on forged Greek passports, Judge Rick Smid sentenced the three men to a 3 month conditional prison sentence with 3 years of probation. After the ruling, they were handed over to immigration.
The ruling is softer than the demand of 32 days by prosecutor Martin van Es, though the men have spent that time behind bars since their arrest and the result would have been the same.
Through an Arabic interpreter, the men – Rasste Issa (26), Shanto Bahi (34) and Salaiman Hasan (22) told the court that they had borrowed money from family in /Europe to pay for their trip that should have ended up in Europe. Family members in /Syria sold pieces of land to help finance their flight from war-stricken Syria. The urge to flee was especially strong for Bahi and Hasan, because they are from Kurdish descent. Falling into the hands of Islamic state would have meant a sure death, they said.
The men left their country with valid Syrian passports. They first went to Turkey with the intention to travel from there to the Netherlands. When they failed to obtain a visa, they fell in the hands of a smuggler who sent them to Brazil. There they gave their passports to another member of the human smuggling ring who promised to make their paperwork in order for their trip to Europe, they never saw him again.
This is how the men ended up buying forged Greek passports in Brazil. With those documents they traveled to the Dominican Republic, Haiti and in the end to St. Maarten.
Prosecutor Van Es said that he understood the dire circumstances, but that the court case was not about the war in Syria. He asked for a 32-day prison sentence. “That means they will be free today and can be handed over to immigration,” he said.
Attorney Safira Ibrahim said that her clients know they broke the law with the forged passports, but she called on the state of emergency as a basis for excluding all guilt.
“That state of emergency could be true when they fled Syria, but here they are too far away from that situation,” the prosecutor responded.
Judge Smid agreed with the prosecutor and said that a pardon was just a step too far. Instead he sentenced the men to a 3-month conditional prison sentence with 3 years of probation. “Today you will go to immigration,” he told the three defendants. The ruling is irrevocable, because the prosecution and the defense waived appeal.
Source: 721 news Syrians sent away with conditional sentence