Court to deal with lawyer’s alleged involvement with Ostrich case later

PHILIPSBURG–The Court of First Instance on Thursday was scheduled to handle the criminal case against attorney-at-law B.B.B. (41), who is a suspect in the so-called Ostrich investigation involving five members of the Immigration and Border Protection Service (IBPS) at Princess Juliana International Airport SXM. They were all suspected of human trafficking, bribery, accepting bribes and abusing their authority as civil servants and were also charged with membership in a criminal organisation.

As the Court deemed it fit to not let one of the Judges of the Joint Court’s branch in St. Maarten preside over this case, it was decided to let a Judge from Curaçao or Aruba handle the case instead.

The Judge in question did not fly to St. Maarten but was scheduled to hear the case via video-conferencing. As B.B.B.’s lawyer Peggy Ann Brandon objected to a video-hearing, and no new Court date was readily available, it was decided to postpone the hearing indefinitely.

The case will then be presided over by new Judge M.Th. Hoogland, who will be deployed as a Judge with the Court in St. Maarten for three months to help with the removal of the backlog in cases caused by the temporary closure of the Courthouse after Hurricane Irma in September 2017.

Hoogland, who currently is a Judge in the Netherlands, will be starting her job in St. Maarten in April.

The lengthy Ostrich investigation, which started in April 2016, resulted in a voluminous case file including 12 separate cases concerning the illegal admittance of foreign nationals, mainly from Jamaica, Haiti and Guyana.

Lawyer B. is also suspected of involvement in the scheme. She is suspected of offering US $200 to main suspect in this case Jahaira Marlin and co-suspect Kizzy L.M. Baptist to admit two persons into St. Maarten who were “overstayed.” B. allegedly had urged Marlin to not “give them a hard time.”

B. allegedly had done this in her capacity as board member of insurance company NAGICO. The illegal persons in question were NAGICO employees.

On February 22, 2017, B. was arrested at her home and escorted to the Police Station for questioning. Five days later her detention was suspended for health reasons.

The Investigation was carried out by the Unit Human Trafficking and Human Smuggling of the St. Maarten Police Force KPSM.

Marlin, the main suspect in the Ostrich case, was sentenced to 20 months and a five-year ban on working within the civil service. Baptist was sentenced to 14 months and a five-year ban on similar charges.

Source: The Daily Herald