Prosecution immediately appeals 20-year verdict
St. Maarten News – Anger, frustration and disappointment describe the reaction after the Court in First Instance sentenced Ridge Demisse to 20 years of imprisonment for manslaughter on Police Officer Gamali Benjamin, attempted manslaughter on a second police officer and the armed robbery at the Oro Diamanté jewelry store. The verdict fell way short of the life sentence the prosecution demanded at the trial on April 13. The prosecutor’s office did not comment on the ruling but it acted swiftly by filing an appeal the same day.
“He should get life,” a disappointed police officer grumbled outside of the courthouse. And when the news of the verdict reached the community through social media, the reactions matched the policeman’s disappointment.
“Ridiculous,”, “sad,” and “unbelievable” were some of the reactions. One statement read; “He should never see daylight again. Let him rap from darkness,” while another post suggested “Kill ‘em to hell back when they take the life of your loved one.”
The court sentenced Jovanny Leon, the 20-year-old who came up with the plan for the armed robbery that resulted in Benjamin’s death to 8 years of imprisonment – also far below the 25 years the prosecution demanded at the trial. The prosecutor’s office has also appealed this verdict.
The prosecutor’s office said on Wednesday evening in a press statement that it is “disappointed” and that it disagrees with the verdicts. “The prosecutor’s office is of the opinion that the sentences insufficiently express that this is about a policeman who was shot to death immediately after he intervened in an armed robbery.”
The prosecutor’s office furthermore disagrees with the acquittal of Jovanny Leon of the charges of manslaughter and attempted manslaughter.
Source: Today SXM Disappointment over short sentence against killer Officer Benjamin