PHILIPSBURG–Four men were sentenced Wednesday to thirty hours of community service for making a citizen’s arrest which had turned into a case of public violence. The Prosecutor’s Office had called for eighty hours, or forty days’ imprisonment, in case of non-compliance.
The Judge in the Court of First Instance considered it proven that brothers Jairam Etwaroo (43) and Munishwar Etwaroo (25), who jointly own a garage in Cole Bay, and Delano Dimitri Hassell (21) and Derrick Junior Wilson (19), who live in the neighbourhood, had exerted violence when they made a citizen’s arrest.
Even though it is permitted to hold a man when he is caught red-handed, it is not allowed to hold someone when he is spotted at a later time. Such was the case when the four suspects spotted the notorious neighbourhood burglar, who had stolen several items from the brother’s garage, sitting outside a supermarket in the area.
One of the men witnessed the burglary and the four approached the perpetrator. While one of the suspects held him, the others punched him frequently before he was handed over to the police.
The victim, who was injured to his mouth and hand, and complained of pain to his back, spent one night in observation at St. Maarten Medical Center. He was already tried for committing the burglary and sentenced to three months.
According to the Prosecutor’s Office, the four suspects were not trained to make an arrest, and, therefore, should have waited for the police.
“This is a case of taking the law in your own hands. You cannot beat somebody up first, before handing him over to the police, because this creates chaos,” the Prosecutor said in Court. “This is not the way to handle this and your response [to the burglary – Ed.] was disproportionate,” he told the four defendants.
Attorney-at-law Sjamira Roseburg, who had instructed her clients not to give statements but to let her speak on their behalf, argued with the Court that the cases against her clients should be thrown out because they were not properly informed about their rights as suspects and about their rights to an attorney. However, the Judge did not see any violations of the suspects’ rights.
Roseburg argued that community service was “going too far” and pleaded for her clients to be declared guilty without a penalty. She pointed out that the victim, who has a criminal record “from here to Tokyo,” was a nuisance to the neighbourhood.
The lawyer said the man, who should be admitted to an addiction clinic, had caused US $11,735 in damages in burglarising the garage. She further stated that no weapons were used in the citizen’s arrest which had gotten out of hand.
The Judge agreed with the Prosecutor’s position in this case. “You cannot take the law in your own hands and use more force than necessary,” he said at the end of the hearing.
Source: The Daily Herald https://www.thedailyherald.sx/islands/community-service-for-citizen-s-arrest