PHILIPSBURG–The two men believed to be responsible for the shooting at El Capitan Night Club on December 31, 2018, appeared before a judge in the Court of First Instance on Wednesday, to learn that their cases will be heard on June 16.
Suspects D.J.E.O. (35) and S.R. (20) walked into the police headquarters on January 2, 2019, and surrendered to police who had been searching for them since the shooting took place. Both suspects were immediately arrested and placed in custody for further investigation.
One of the shooting victims died at the hospital emergency room. The other victim sustained injuries to his legs and arm.
The police said at the time that when officers arrived at the establishment to investigate the situation on Old Year’s Day 2018, they had learnt that two persons had been shot and those responsible for this had fled the scene in a black SUV headed towards Bishop Hill.
Both suspects are suspected of having committed (attempted) murder and manslaughter and of the possession of several illegal firearms.
The case was not yet ready to go on trial on Wednesday, as the results of investigations by the Netherlands Forensic Institute (NFI) into a possible self-defence scenario are still forthcoming. Also, video camera images are still to be added to the case file, the Prosecutor explained.
Attorney-at-law Eldon “Peppie” Sulvaran called on the Court to immediately release his clients from their pre-trial detention as they have been were illegally detained since April 2, the lawyer claimed.
According to the Prosecutor, the Judge of Instruction had extended the defendants’ pre-trial detention by 60 days after studying camera images of the shooting and had informed the Prosecutor’s Office and the defendants’ former lawyer about the decision by email.
However, as the two suspects were not provided with the official documents pertaining to the extension of their pre-trial detention and “verbal” statements would not be valid, Sulvaran maintained that his clients should be let go.
“The law does not permit any behind-the-scenes conversations. Therefore, clients must be released because they have not been able to object to the extension of their pre-trial detention,” Sulvaran said.
After a recess during which the Judge and a Court Recorder managed to retrieve the contested decisions which were signed by the Judge of Instruction on March 25, the Judge established that the decisions were valid, but that both suspects had not received the documents. This was considered an irregularity (“vormfout”) which was rectified by the Recorder, who handed over copies of the signed decisions to the defendants.
Sulvaran requested an investigation into the personal computers of the Judge of Instruction and the Recorder to establish when the decisions were actually drafted. After questioning the Judge of Instruction’s Recorder on the matter, the Judge said he found no grounds for such an investigation. He said there were no reasons to doubt the correctness of the decisions, as there were no indications that the documents had been tampered with.