MARIGOT–Some twenty small-time looters who were active in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Irma, will be given a chance to avoid a criminal record if their theft was valued at under 100 euros by following a citizenship course designed to re-instil moral values, tolerance and respect, values of the French Republic and to make peace with the merchants who they stole from.
The announcement was made Wednesday and followed the signing of a convention between the Collectivité, Prosecutor Samuel Finielz, the insertion branch of Semsamar, Sem Ta Route and representative of the Court of First Instance in Basse Terre and President of the Court in St. Martin, Gérard Egron-Reverseau and the penitentiary services of Guadeloupe.
Prosecutor Samuel Finielz noted court hearings for those summoned for looting offences will begin in December in Marigot and probably last until February or March 2018. More than 150 arrests were made for looting offences on the French side during one month after Irma. Some 14 suspects have already been sentenced and sent to Guadeloupe. A further 50 suspects wait to learn their fate.
“We had a specialist task force set up 72 hours after Irma, consisting of judicial police, specialist looting investigators from France and two prosecutors, he disclosed. Some 95 per cent of the evidence was handed in to investigators. It mostly comprised photos and videos on social media or evidence obtained from witness reports. Some 60 per cent of stolen goods were returned to their owners.”
Association Sem Ta Route will be organizing the citizenship courses. They will take place over five days from 7:30am to 1:00pm. If a looter accepts to participate on the course, he or she will not be charged and not receive a criminal record. But refusal means a suspended prison sentence, a fine and a criminal record. Two more courses are envisaged for 2018.
Participants on the course will also be required to do community work such as cleaning public spaces or construction.
President Daniel Gibbs welcomed the initiative calling it important for the reconstruction of the island, “in the physical sense, to restore civility and morals.”