Court declares interrogation by American DEA-agents unlawful

POSTED: 07/6/14 5:44 PM

St. Maarten – The Common Court of Justice ruled this week that last year’s interrogation of drug smuggler John Henry Medina by agents of the American Drug Enforcement Administration was unlawful.

Medina’s attorney Eldon Sulvaran asked the court to declare the prosecution inadmissible in the case at the trial on June 12, but the court denied the request because the DEA-interrogation did not infringe on the defendant’s right to a fair trial.

Sulvaran told the court at the trial that DEA-agents had interrogated his client in St. Maarten in the presence of three local police officers. The court pointed out that it would have been up to the solicitor-general to investigate this matter further, but since this was not done the court ruled that the interrogation equals a procedural violation.

“Every action by foreign officers of justice and police on the territory of St. Maarten has to be conducted under the factual direction and responsibility of competent authorities of St. Maarten. This also applies to actions that take place in the context of an extradition request.”

The court ruled that posing questions to the claimed person by foreign authorities “must be done in the presence of the Judge of Instruction and in the way he determines.”

There is no evidence that the Judge of Instruction was present during the interrogation by DEA-agents, nor is there evidence that the Judge of Instruction received information that the DEA would interrogate Medina. The court found that there is also no police report about the interrogation – a violation of article 186 of the Code of Criminal Procedures. Based on these circumstances the court ruled that the DEA-interrogation was unlawful.

The court found Medina guilty of his involvement in a cocaine transport and confirmed the sentence the Court in First Instance imposed in March – 15 years of imprisonment. On the evening of March 3 of last year, the coastguard spotted an Eduardono fiberglass boat, powered by three 200 horsepower outboard engines on its way from Venezuela to the Dominican Republic. The boat was moving at 17 knots (34.1 kilometers) per hours. Warning shots were fired and in the end the coast guard managed to apprehend the crew. On board they found 51 bales, containing 1,453 kilos of cocaine. Prosecutor Tineke Kamps valued the drugs at $1.2 billion. The coastguard gave 11 kilos for evidence to agents of the DEA.

Medina is the only one of three crew members to go to prison. The other two, Carlos Miquel Olivier-Cruz (30) and Marco David Santana-Guerero (35) escaped from the police station on June 23 of last year. They have never been found and were sentenced in absentia to similar prison sentences. A third escapee, Sobiesky Manuel Parrondo, was sentenced in absentia to 14 years for the murder of Gaston Gumbs in Hope Estate.

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