CAY HILL–The preliminary hearing in the so-called “Papegaai” case involving exploitation of women, human trafficking and deprivation of liberty at Casa Blanca brothel in Oyster Pond started at the Belair Community Centre on Thursday morning.
The case was heard there because of special security measures taken in another unrelated case.
The three suspects appeared in court ready to hear the charges against them, but the case hit another stumbling block on Thursday because some of the witnesses still had to be heard. The pro-forma hearing will be held on July 20.
Casa Blanca owner C.P. and three of the managers were arrested on November 16, 2015, on suspicion of human trafficking. Together with two other suspects they will be standing trial on May 25.
The local Prosecutor’s Office cooperated with the Prosecutor’s Office of the Dominican Republic in the investigation. Three main suspects were arrested on suspicion of exploitation of mainly women from the Dominican Republic and a fourth suspect was arrested later for firearm possession. House searches were also part of the investigation.
Some 35 women have come forward and accused Casa Blanca’s management of abuse and keeping them against their wills while employed at the brothel. In their statements some of the women said they were forced to work during their menstrual cycles and were abused by management.
The main hearing in this case will take place on May 25. Most likely, two other suspects will be joining those already mentioned during the full-day hearing, the Prosecutor announced without providing any additional information.
Attorney Shaira Bommel requested the dismissal of all three suspects considering the amount of time the Prosecutor is taking to bring the charges against her clients.
The judge did not grant the request and ordered the continued incarceration of the suspects due to the severity of the crimes of which they are accused.
The Prosecutor said the suspects should remain behind bars, as the witnesses had testified extensively about deprivation of liberty, a fine system, debts of up to US $3,000 because of unreasonable expenses, which they had to pay off by having sex with customers for a $50 fee, and threats of violence, extortion and misleading, exploitation and human trafficking.
Suspects D.J.E. (31), J.P. R. (44) and A.T.M.R. (38) were led in front of the Judge on Wednesday. Prosecutor Maarten Noordzij said during the hearing that all suspects were charged with involvement in human trafficking between January 1, 2010, and November 16, 2015, and with deprivation of the liberty of women working at Casa Blanca in said period.
J.P.R. and A.T.M.R. also were charged with illegal firearm possession. The suspects did not flinch when the judge did not set them free, and walked out with blank expressions.
The Prosecutor will continue to seek some of the witnesses who claimed they were abused by management while working at the establishment.
Source: Daily Herald Casa Blanca owners remain in custody, hearing moved to July