Court denies release to convict with life sentence

POSTED: 11/30/14 11:17 PM

St. Maarten – The Common Court of Justice yesterday denied a request by Romero Rudolf Canword to immediately release him from prison and to give him the opportunity to undergo treatment for an existing disorder. Canword is serving a life sentence for murder. He asked the court to be released based on article 43 of the Code of Criminal procedures. The court ruled that the petitioner should ask for a pardon first – and if hat request is denied – based his request on this article.

More than thirteen years ago, on January 9, 2001 the Common Court sentenced Canword to life imprisonment for murder. The court ruling gives no details about the crime. Since August 28, 2009, Canword is serving his time in the Pointe Blanche prison.

Canword’s attorney Shaira Bommel called on the Vinter-arrest of the European human Rights court, which states that convicts with a life sentence must have a perspective on early release. Canword has been imprisoned since December 10, 1999.

Bommel argued that Canword has served his time that he is no longer a threat to the community and that continued incarceration no longer serves a reasonable objective.

The court acknowledged that Canword is entitled to a review of his case. The Vinter-arrest speaks of a prospect of release and a possibility of review for convicts with a life sentence. The court ruled however that St. Maarten’s legislation includes the possibility of a pardon. “It is standard procedure to ask the court for an advice. This offers a convict a prospect of release and a possibility of review.”

The court ruled that the pardon-procedure offers sufficient possibilities for a review of the sentence. In case the pardon is rejected, the convict has the option to petition the court via article 43.

The file on which Canword’s conviction is based is nowhere to be found anymore. If Canword files for a pardon, the court will investigate whether his conviction at the time was based on an existing disorder and whether that disorder was relevant for determining the risk to society of his release. It is possible that this requires additional reports, the court ruled, adding that the pardon-procedure offers a solution for such a situation.

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