PHILIPSBURG—Police denied on Tuesday that they had violated the rights of a minor currently incarcerated at Miss Lalie Centre in Cay Bay.
The minor’s lawyer, Attorney-at-Law Sjamira Roseburg, had issued a statement on Sunday claiming the police had decided to take DNA of the minor without giving him the opportunity to consult with her or with his guardian.
But police spokesman Chief Inspector Ricardo Henson on Tuesday played down the significance of the age of the victim and stressed he was suspected of serious crimes.
“The suspect in question is 17 years old and will be 18 next month. He is in custody and is suspected of being involved in one or more armed robberies where firearms were used,” Henson said in a statement issued Tuesday evening.
“During police interrogations, the essential question of voluntarily giving saliva to make a DNA profile could not be asked the suspect. It’s an investigation whereby more suspects are involved and also detained, and who have also given samples of their DNA,” stated Henson.
“In the interest of the ongoing investigation and the community of St. Maarten at large, the suspect was contacted at Miss Lalie Centre in Cay Bay, where he is in detention in connection with this investigation.
“After being explained what DNA is and how important it is for the investigation, and also if he has no involvement with the robberies it can be in his favour, the suspect was asked if he would voluntarily cooperate in giving saliva in order to make a DNA profile, which would be matched with evidence obtained by police during the investigation.
“The suspect in question said ‘yes’ and a report was made by the relevant investigating officer, who in turn forwarded it to the Prosecutor who is handling the case. The contact that was made with the suspect was not an interrogation, but a question placed to the suspect to see if he was willing to cooperate.”
Authorities went completely by the book, according to the police spokesman.
“The Prosecutor in turn submitted a request to the Judge of Instruction, who is the competent authority for giving the order to have DNA taken from a suspect. The Judge of Instruction found it fit to have the DNA sample taken, and issued an order to have such done.
“The police are in possession of both the request made by the Prosecutor and the order issued by the Judge of Instruction, dated respectively the 27th and 28th of June. The Police Force did not trample the rights of this suspect, or any other suspect, and is totally against this type of behaviour,” Henson concluded.
Source: Daily Herald
Police justify taking DNA from minor