PHILIPSBURG–The Court of Appeals on Thursday decided to temporarily suspend the detention of a 61-year-old suspect for “urgent” medical reasons. The defendant will be released from pre-trial detention at 9:00am Tuesday, December 7, and must return to Pointe Blanche prison no later than 5:00pm on May 7, 2020, the Court ordered.
In case he would not be able to return by that time, the Court demanded doctor’s letter to indicate the reasons for any delay, such as hospital stay or rehabilitation.
If the defendant remains abroad without any proper notification the Court of Appeals said the Prosecutor’s Office would immediately be notified to engage international criminal police organisation Interpol in bringing the defendant back to St. Maarten.
The Court of First Instance on February 24 sentenced suspect Collin Kristensen to seven years in prison for a large number of crimes, among them the sexual abuse of a minor child; the possession, production and distribution of child-pornography; and bribery of a police officer.
Together with a former member of the Police Force of St. Maarten, he was also found guilty of fencing a number of diamonds in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma in September 2017.
The diamonds had been looted from a jewellery store and were taken from the police station where they had been stored together with other confiscated looted items. The two men had tried to sell the jewellery, but the diamonds proved to be false.
For almost a year, Kristensen has been suffering pain in his lower body. While in detention in Curaçao, where he was sent for diagnostics and treatment, he was diagnosed with a herniated disc in his lower back. His condition is aggravated by a “homemade” prosthesis on his left leg.
During a June-hearing he said that whereas he would be able to obtain a better prosthesis in St. Maarten, he would require highly specialised surgery to his spine which is not available in the Dutch Caribbean.
As obtaining a prosthesis in St. Maarten proved to be near impossible and very costly, Kristensen, who is of Scottish/Danish descent, requested permission from the Court of Appeals to undergo surgery and to obtain a prosthesis in either Denmark or Great Britain.
In a letter to the Minister of Justice, the director of Pointe Blanche prison asked for permission to suspend the suspect’s detention for three months for treatment. According to lawyer Shaira Bommel, her client’s recovery and rehabilitation after surgery may take three to six months.
Kristensen said his medical expenses were covered by insurance, but was asked whether he would be able to pay bail to the tune of several tens of thousands of dollars to guarantee his return to St. Maarten he failed to give a straight answer.
According to Kristensen, his house in St. Maarten had been burglarised twice after he was arrested. His credit cards were stolen and his bank accounts emptied as a result.
He also said he was not in contact with his personal business assistant, as staff at the US-based company had left St. Maarten after Hurricane Irma in September 2017. He said his assistant is currently employed in Australia, which makes communication rather difficult.
After brief considerations in chambers the Court decided not to impose any bail, as this would unduly delay the suspect’s medical evacuation. The next hearing in this case was scheduled for May 2020.