Vesuvius-trial: day 4 – Prosecution slaughters defense argumentsPOSTED: 10/26/12 12:58 PM
St. Maarten / By Hilbert Haar – Prosecutors mrs. Gonda van der Wulp and Barth den Hartigh made mince meat of most of the defense arguments on the fourth day of the Vesuvius-trial and established that in particular attorneys mrs. Brenda Brooks, Marije Vaders and Peggy Ann Brandon had created impressions that are at odds with the truth.
mr. Geert Hatzmann was the only attorney to conclude his defense in the second round for his client Charles F. who was absent from the temporary courthouse in the Belair Community Center due to an inflammation. Judge Rick Smid will pronounce his verdict in this case on November 15. The other attorneys each will plead in their second round this morning.
mr. Hatzmann limited his defense to the allegation that his client had been a member of Omar J.’s criminal organization and to the 8-year imprisonment the prosecution demanded last week. The attorney asked the court to grant F. an 8-month sentence reduction for the eight weeks he spent in a police cell. “He did not get the House of Detention regime there. This way he was punished for his good behavior that other defendants did not appreciate. He had to be kept separate from the group for his own safety. Detention is no joke: I have seen big guys with lots of tattoos who started crying after two days in detention.”
mr. Hatzmann charged that the prosecution uses his client’s alleged involvement in the
Tan Tan case (the attempted murder on Omax Bye and the attempted manslaughter on Kennedy Fergus on April 20 of last year). “This was a private matter for my client. He drove with Amador (Jones – ed.) to the hospital after he was shot. And yes, he said: if the police do nothing we’ll solve this ourselves. But he was emotionally involved; this has nothing to do with drugs.”
Prosecutor Bart den Hartigh dismissed the remarkable statements by attorneys Brooks and Brandon that blogs on a local gossip website had been the point of departure for the investigation. Yesterday it became clear that the attorneys and the website are seemingly in cahoots to manipulate reports about the court case.
Documents from both attorneys were almost immediately published integrally on the web site, but when the prosecution dismantled the defense arguments yesterday morning, the site’s representative was nowhere to be seen.
“Obviously the investigation is not based on gossip backbiting on the internet,” mr. Den Hartigh said. “Such statements may be attractive for the media, but the case file shows that all aspects of the case have been seriously and meticulously investigated. We reject the position that the police have done a sloppy or incomplete job. The statements of the defense do no justice to the good work the investigation team has done.”
The prosecutor rejected an argument from attorney Cor Merx about the structural observation of his client Andrew D., and from attorneys Brooks and Vaders against recording confidential information from conversations between their clients Omar J. and Erno L.
These so-called special investigation methods have been used in a limited way and under circumstances “whereby the defendants could not reasonable expect to have any privacy.” Omar J. even suspected that detectives were eavesdropping and he told Erno L. about it.
Remarks by attorney Brooks that Omar J. and Erno L. had been spied on with listening devices without permission and for longer than agreed upon turn out to be incorrect, mr. den Hartigh established. “One conversation lasted half an hour, another one a bit more than one minute.”
Andrew D. was observed by detectives on two occasions only, the prosecutor said. “It is possible that the defendant thought that he was observed more often, but these observations only took place as they are described in the police report.”
The Supreme Court ruled in a case with 66 observation days and 90 house observations that these observations did not exceed the limitations for the use of these methods established in the Police Law.
Attorneys Brandon and Vaders complained in their pleas about the use of anonymous witnesses and about the methods that was used to question them. Prosecutor Den Hartigh noted that the defense attorneys brought their objections up during the court hearing for the first time. “The Judge of Instruction has heard these witnesses at a secret location. Attorneys had the opportunity to ask questions and to pose additional ones after the answers. To protect their identity, the Judge of Instruction did not allow certain questions and at the time the attorneys have not objected to this.”
The prosecutor conceded that attorney Vaders had made a valid point when she mentioned the danger of possible duplicates among the anonymous witnesses. “She says that the Judge of Instruction should have checked this, but she never asked him to do it.” The prosecution maintains that there are no duplicates in the file.
Prosecutor mr. Gonda van der Wulp countered a charge by attorney Brooks that the investigators had suffered from tunnel vision and that they had been blind to alternative scenarios like revenge on Hector Miguel Arrindell and his brother Rodolfo by Colombian drug dealers. “The defense said that there are alternative scenarios but did not say that these scenarios have been investigated. No proof was found to support these scenarios.”
The prosecutor conceded that Eric Lake, Brian Ch., Mario Y. and Edwin L. were in the vicinity of the location where Hector Miguel Arrindell was killed on May 25 of last year. But no proof was found to link these men to the murder. “It is possible that they were preparing another criminal act, namely a drug rip deal with a couple of Guyanese.”
There is also no proof for the involvement of Colombians in the Arrindell-murders. “The use of the same firearm and the same ammunition, and also DNA trace-evidence, all point to one group of perpetrators and that does not fit very well with the proposed alternative scenarios,” mr. Van der Wulp said.