Armed robber loses appeal against 6-year prison term

POSTED: 03/27/11 8:17 PM

Common Court of Justice gives “veiled extradition” the nod

St. Maarten – The Appeals Court has confirmed the verdict of Garvin Clint Baptiste and dismissed the argument that his arrest at the Dutch-French border on June 4, 2009, was unlawful. Baptiste’s attorney Mr. J.G. Bloem had labeled the arrest last year as a veiled extradition, close to kidnapping.

“The question is whether those police officers accidentally happened to be at the border when the gendarmerie let my client out of their vehicle, or whether they had arranged something with the gendarmerie,” Bloem said during an appeals hearing in November where he asked the court to hear the arresting police officers as witnesses before the judge of instruction. Bloem also called co-defendants, who all made incriminating statements against Baptiste, but at least one of them – who actually appeared in court for questioning – refused to say anything.

Baptiste, 21, was sentenced to 6 years imprisonment in the Court in First Instance on June 30 of last year for his involvement in two armed robberies on May 25 and May 26 of 2009.

Baptiste was arrested by the gendarmerie on the French side of the island. On June 4, gendarmes took him to the border, where Dutch-side police officers were waiting for him. Baptiste’s attorney Mr. J.G. Bloem asked the Court in First Instance, and later the Common Court of Justice, to declare the prosecution inadmissible because the authorities had circumvented formal extradition procedures. Bloem also claimed that the arrest was “hidden” in a police report dated July 3, 2009 – almost a month after the actual arrest.

But the appeals court judges Mrs. P.E. de Kort, L.C. Hoefdraad and J.P. de Haan found that the arrest was recorded in a report of  June 5, just two days after wards.

The report states that the car Baptiste was driving was stopped by the gendarmerie on June 2. On June 4 he was arrested at the border with permission from the public prosecutor, after he was handed over on the spot by gendarme adjutant Dovergne.

“The developments during the arrest cannot result in inadmissibility of the prosecution,” the Appeals Court ruled. The arrest does not violate the principles of proper procedures and it does not short-change the defendant’s right to fair treatment, the court ruled, adding that these circumstances are not relevant for any other decision in the case either.

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