Deported human smuggler sentenced to three months

POSTED: 06/30/11 12:41 PM

Braveheart’s second captain gets 1-year reduction

St. Maarten – The Court in First Instance sentenced St. Lucian Marcellus Ledwin Mangal, 36, to 3 months imprisonment for his role in smuggling ten Cubans with the Braveheart from St. Lucia via Dominica to St. Maarten in November of last year. Mangal acted as the second captain on the boat that intended to travel via St. Maarten to Unites States territory.

Prosecutor mr. M.L.P. Ridderbeks demanded 30 months imprisonment during the trial on May 25. Judge mr. M. Keppels considered a 15-month sentence, but she granted the defendant, who was not in court because he has been deported to St. Lucia, a 12-month sentence reduction for the ten weeks he spent too long in detention in a police cell.

The court rejected the defense plea to declare the prosecutor inadmissible because police officers allegedly lied on several occasion to the defendant and because of the detention situation at the police station. “The case file does not show that police officers lied,” Judge Keppels wrote in her considerations. “The fact that the defendant spent more time in the old police cells than the law permits in combination with the conditions in these cells does not mean that the defendant did not get a fair trial.”

The Judge ruled that the circumstances do not justify declaring the prosecution inadmissible. They do, however, affect the sentence.

Mangal transported ten Cubans who did not have valid travel documents, “for a lot of money” from St. Lucia and Dominica to St. Maarten “with the United States as the final destination,” mr. Keppels wrote in her ruling. ”Considering the large amounts the passengers had to pay, there is proof that the defendant acted for profit. It is a commonly known fact that organizations that smuggle illegals do this for commercial motives. That the defendant acted out of humanitarian considerations has not been suggested or otherwise been made plausible.”

The court also dismissed the plea by mr. J.J. de Vrieze that Mangal did not know or at least suspected that the Cubans entry to St. Maarten was illegal. This conclusion is based on statements by Cubans who were on an earlier transport to Tortola with the Braveheart, captained by Griffith Owner Joseph, who was sentenced to 10 months imprisonment in April. Mangal was also on this trip. They were detained by immigration and deported to Dominica. “It must have been sufficiently clear to the defendant that this was not a vacation trip for the Cubans.”


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