Soualiga Boulevard was closed off by police during the bomb scare at the TelEm building September 12, 2018.
PHILIPSBURG–The displeased customer of TelEm who made a bomb threat by telephone to the telecommunications company at Pond Island on Wednesday, September 12, 2018, was sentenced by the Court of First Instance on Wednesday to 100 hours of community service, or fifty days imprisonment in case of non-compliance.
Sarina Anuska Gitoroemakso (39) was arrested that same September day. She was easily tracked down by the police as she had made her call from a landline telephone which she had used on June 16, 2018, to make a complaint with the police in an unrelated matter.
The woman was taken into custody pending further investigation and was held for one night. It emerged she had made the threat because she was displeased with the level of customer service provided by the telecommunications company.
The police dispatch received a call from the TelEm manager at approximately 1:50pm September 12, 2018, stating they had received an anonymous call to their helpdesk from an unknown person making claims of a possible bomb threat in the TelEm building and its vicinity.
The police dispatch immediately directed several police patrols, including members of its Arrest Team, to the TelEm headquarters. The Police Force did not take the bomb threat lightly and decided to evacuate the TelEm building, the adjacent Government Administration Building and persons living in the immediate area. In total some 200 persons were evacuated.
Members of the Fire Department and paramedics were also on the scene in case they were called to perform their duties. Traffic on Soualiga Boulevard was diverted.
The search for explosives at the TelEm building was called off at 4:45pm after no device was found.
Gitoroemakso confessed to the crime on that same day. She said she had made the call because she was angry and frustrated with TelEm’s low level of customer service. She told the court that bad service, the company’s non-response to complaints and technicians not showing up for repairs had led to her impulsive response.
The defendant said she had lived in the Netherlands and the United States for a number of years and had never experienced any problems with customer service in these countries. She returned to St. Maarten in 2016.
She said she was “extremely sorry” for what happened and informed the judge that she is taking breathing exercises to control her emotions.
The Prosecutor found the defendant guilty as charged. “Watch out, the building is going to blow,” the defendant reportedly had told the TelEm employee over the phone, the Prosecutor said.
“We are all aware of bad service, but the suspect’s response caused a lot of chaos,” the Prosecutor said, stating that making bomb threats is considered a very serious crime.
False bomb threats were also made at Princess Juliana International Airport in 2015 and 2017. In April 2016, the Court of First Instance sentenced a man to 12 months unconditional for making these two threats.
Because Gitoroemakso had cooperated with the police investigations and had shown remorse the Prosecutor called for 100 hours of community service in her case.
Attorney-at-law Shaira Bommel said her client regretted her “very silly” behaviour. “She did not think of the consequences and it will not happen again,” the lawyer assured.
The Judge also did not find jail-time a suitable punishment and sentenced the defendant according to the Prosecutor’s demand.
Source: The Daily Herald https://www.thedailyherald.sx/islands/85406-community-service-for-bomb-scare-at-telem