Nadika Stephen verdict deferred to January 19

MARIGOT–A five-strong legal team mounted a robust defence of their client Nadika Stephen during a day-long court hearing on Thursday in Marigot, picking apart a case that her lawyers said was riddled with inconsistencies and contradictions in the reports filed.

Stephen was summoned to court last year accused by Police aux Frontières (PAF) of uttering racial slurs against their officers following the arrest of her son Kevin during an ID control in Bellevue on June 16, 2015.

Stephen’s lawyers included Harry Durimel, Sarah Aristide, Maître Eslin, Maître Daninth and Evita Chevry. Also present was historian Daniella Jeffry, law professor Julien Merion, and Guadeloupe union leader Elie Domato.

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Two of the three PAF officers in court were defended by Mme. Tissot.

Due to the late arrival of one of the lawyers from Guadeloupe another case was heard first concerning land filling at Marina Royale where the marina management company SAMAGEST accused a Mr. Lake of illegal land filling.

The Stephen case therefore did not start till about 10:00am and concluded at 4:30pm stopping only for a lunch break.

“The case was well put together by my lawyers in bringing up the confusion that was created in my file,” said Stephen outside the courthouse afterwards. “What the police said happened, didn’t happen, and the lawyers were able to dissect bit by bit what really happened and what was said. The accusations made against me by the police were contradictory. One police officer said I uttered a racial slur yet the other two police officers said I didn’t.

“The only other thing I can say now is that there is a God, and he hears things. He know what justice is, not the judges. I have to say my lawyers were very precise and eloquent. The police defence didn’t have much of an argument when the contradictions were exposed.”

Lawyer Harry Durimel said the case focused on contesting the alleged racial slurs.

“Nadika Stephen insisted she never insulted anyone about their race,” said Durimel in an invited comment. “She did express that she is not French but a St. Martiner. Our mission was to expose the contradictions in the documents because this file was made by the police for the police. Although these officers were together they made many mistakes that is undermining the authenticity of their accusations.

“On the formal procedure we expressed that the procedure was not correct. The case should not have been brought by the prosecutor if there is confusion in the mind of the accused as to why he or she has been summoned and for what reasons. The law says there must not be confusion in this respect. We also argued that this case should have been judged within a year, but a year has passed, therefore it is no longer valid.”

Members of the Soualiga Grass Roots Movement in white T-shirts said afterwards they were “encouraged” by how the day’s proceedings went. Groups of supporters were seen waiting outside the courthouse for news most of the day but there was no sight of Gendarmes who were expected to be there to keep order.

The public seating area of the courtroom was filled to capacity and many were standing outside. Occasional disturbances and talking tested President of the Tribunal Gérard Egron-Reverseau’s patience. Soualiga Grass Roots member Victor Paines was almost evicted as the judge thought he was using the camera on his smartphone.

Prosecutor Yves Paillard called for a three-month suspended prison sentence for Nadika Stephen. Stephen, who does not speak French was assisted by a court translator.

After the lawyers’s final summing up, the judge pronounced his verdict will be made on January 19, 2017.

Source: The Daily Herald https://www.thedailyherald.sx/islands/61830-nadika-stephen-verdict-deferred-to-january-19

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