First stage Vesuvius-trial starts under heavy security

POSTED: 02/9/12 1:43 PM

Investigation continues; new court hearing in June

St. Maarten – The trial against seven suspects in the Vesuvius-investigation will continue on June 6. Yesterday, all suspects appeared in the Court in First Instance for pro forma hearings. For security reasons the suspects were brought separately into the heavily secured courthouse. The court procedures lasted from nine o’clock in the morning until three in the afternoon. All suspects remain in custody until June when they will appear all together for another pre-trial hearing. The real trial will start at a later date that has still to be determined and that depends on possible requests by defense attorneys for further investigations and/or the hearing of additional witnesses.

Prosecutors mrs. Gonda van der Wulp and Bart den Hartigh read the charges against the defendants, making clear for the first time who is accused of what. The prosecutors made clear that the investigation is not completed yet – the final report is expected half May – and that it is possible that defendants will face additional charges when their definite summons comes down.

For now, Carlos Alfonso R. seems to be the main suspect. The 29-year old St. Maartener is accused of involvement in the attempted murder on Kennedy Fergus on April 20 of last year, the murder of Miguel Hector Arrindell on May 25, Rodolfo Arrindell on July 7 and Eric Lake and Kevin Gumbs on August 17. These charges also apply to Ekron Sylvan Collin M., 34, from St. Kitts.

The other defendants are Jamaican Andrew Selvin D., 30, St. Maarteners Adin Omar Wladimir J., 34,Doniel Darryl Th., 25, Erno Desmond Wycliff L., 29, and Charles Edmond F., 36. They all are involved one way or the other in the attempted murder on Kennedy Fergus on April 20 of last year. In this shooting incident in Dutch Quarter near the former Tan Tan supermarket, a man called Max was actually the intended victim, but he escaped unharmed because he was wearing a bullet proof vest.

The defendants are also charged with firearm possession and may face in June of charge for membership of a criminal organization.

The attorneys for all defendants, with the exception of mr. Geert Hatzmann for Charles Edmond F., asked the court to void the summons against their client and to suspend or end their detention. Judge mr. Monique Keppels turned all these requests down. Hatzmann told the court: “I want to remain realistic.  Have heard already enough fairytales today.”

The security around and inside the courthouse was extreme yesterday morning. The Wilhelmina Steeg and the Hendrik Straat around the courthouse were closed off with steel barriers and heavily guarded by armed police officers. There were even snipers on surrounding buildings as well as security at the Captain Hodge Pier. Security inside the courthouse was also tight; all visitors, journalists included, had to identify themselves and had their bags searched.

When defendants were brought into the courtroom, they were under guard of members of the police arrest team clad in balaclavas. Four of the seven defendants – Omar J., Carlos R., Ekron M. and Charles F. – were brought in handcuffed and remained handcuffed throughout their court hearing.

Also see: The Vesuvius-investigation – how a cocaine theft resulted in four murders.

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