PHILIPSBURG:— Very soon after the passage of hurricanes “Irma” and “Maria the enforcement of criminal law in Sint Maarten was restored. This in close cooperation with all involved in the justice chain. The police force of Sint Maarten (KPSM) has given great attention to the maintenance of public order with the support of the National Police, the marines and the Volunteer Corps of Saint Maarten (VKSM). But in addition, the arrest of looters was immediately taken upon the chain. Many criminal cases have been registered against residents who did not adhere to the curfew announced by the government.
The Public Prosecutor’s Office (OM) Sint Maarten at the Emmaplein was severely damaged, but many other services are even in a worse situation. Amongst them the building of the parole board (Reassering) which is completely unusable. The Parole Board has therefore moved temporarily and joined in the offices at the Public Prosecutor’s Office. Every morning the OM meets with the Judges of the Court of First Instance, the Parole Board, the Guardianship and criminal lawyers. Due to the situation, a very specific form of ‘Security House’ (Veiligheidshuis) has been established.
Unfortunately, since “Irma” there have been two murders committed on Sint Maarten; a deadly shooting in a house where looted goods have also been found. The perpetrator in this case has not been arrested as yet. The other case concerns a stabbing-case where the victim has been killed by a mentally confused person. This suspect has also been arrested and placed in temporary detention. His mother was arrested because looted goods were also found with her.
During the last three weeks, until September 26, 85 criminal cases have been registered on Sint Maarten. 41 Cases are violators of the curfew. In addition, 16 cases have been registered for healing (heling), 21 cases for theft/robbery and 7 cases for possession of firearms or other prohibited items. In 48 cases, the suspects for the violation of the curfew had a duty-sentence of 40 hours. If there was also drug possession, this was increased to 60 hours. Minors receive half of the number of hours. The other 37 cases will be settled by a summons and the majority of them are in temporary detention.
The task sentences are implemented in good cooperation with the Parole Board directly in the form of helping to clean affected schools or other vital buildings. In this way, the suspects can do something back for society.
In the morning the violators of the curfew report at the Parole Board in the building of the Public Prosecutor’s Office of Sint Maarten. Then, under the supervision and guidance of the Volunteers Corps of Saint Maarten (VKS), they execute the duty-sentence.
At the moment there were 23 invasions on premises executed by the police. At the addresses it was suspected of the presence of looted goods. At 17 of these addresses stolen goods were actually found. Another 40 actions are currently being prepared. Many valuable goods are found during these raids, such as a range of refrigerators, many televisions, stereos, watches, computers, air conditioners, various electronics, lots of drinks, expensive sunglasses, clothes and handbags, often still in their original packaging.
The suspects arrested for looting and/or healing are in custody and are or have been presented to the Investigative Judge (RC) for the custody. Among the detained persons for robbery are also persons without a valid residence permit for Sint Maarten. These persons will be transferred to the Immigration Service after being sentenced and have done the time. The border hospital will be cleaned by those with a job punishment so that it can be re-used again as a detention center.
In consultation with the judges and lawyers, a courtcase has been planned for October 18 in the case against looters. This will be a special court-session on short-term to prosecute the suspects.
In the recent period sessions were held in Point Blanche prison. This to avoid that the suspects have to be transported. The court restored with a decision ex art 413 Sv (Code of Criminal Procedure) the time limits that occurred in the first days after “Irma”. Two legal hearings (pro-forma) have also taken place. These also took place in prison Point Blanche. The pro forma sessions were specifically in the investigations “Mars” and “Broccoli”. The decision was taken by the Court to treat these cases at a later date.
Press Release from Public Prosecutor’s Office