ST. PETERS–The Judge of Instruction on Friday ordered the release of a man who was arrested Thursday for the possession of an illegal firearm with ammunition and 35 marijuana plants. Even though the man confessed to the crimes, he was released one day later based on a “technicality,” his lawyer Remco Stomp said Sunday.
The St. Maarten Police Force received an anonymous telephone call last week Tuesday, October 23, from an individual stating that he knew of a man in St. Peters who was growing marijuana in his house and who was possibly dealing the illegal substance.
Several officers were dispatched to investigate the situation two days later, on Thursday, October 25. The police entered the premises and made their way into the suspect’s house. They found a small plantation of marijuana plants on the balcony, which appeared to contain at least 35 fully grown marijuana plants. While conducting a search in the man’s living room the officers also found a gun and ammunition, according to his lawyer.
The man was arrested immediately and taken to the police station where he spent the night in the holding cells. On Friday, the Prosecutor demanded an extension of the man’s pretrial detention, after which the suspect was brought to the Courthouse to face the Judge of Instruction.
The Judge questioned the suspect on the allegations and the man readily admitted that he indeed had a small garden of marijuana plants, Stomp said.
The Judge also questioned the man on the manner in which the police officers had approached him and entered his house.
The man explained that the officers had made their way into his house without asking for his permission. They also failed to show him any warrant.
“They just turned up, made their way into his living room and started to search the room, the man said. The police discovered the gun and bullets hidden in his couch,” attorney-at-law Stomp said.
Stomp told the Judge that, by failing to produce a proper warrant, the police had not observed the most basic rules for conducting a house search. “Not only citizens have to obey the law, but the police as well,” Stomp stated.
The Judge of Instruction confirmed that indeed no warrant could be found in the file. Stomp consequently demanded his client’s immediate release and the Judge ruled accordingly.