Heavy sentences for Awad-kidnappers

POSTED: 09/22/11 2:21 PM

St. Maarten – Roberto Francisco Gumbs and Isidro Eddison Josepha will spend the foreseeable future behind bars in the Pointe Blanche Prison. Judge Mr. M. Keppels sentenced Josepha yesterday to 14 years and 6 months imprisonment and Gumbs to 11 years for kidnapping and torturing Nael Awad on December 16 of last year. Josepha was also sentenced for kidnapping R.L. Murray on January 3, and for attempted manslaughter on this man. A third suspect in the Awad-kidnapping, Jeannot Sanon, was sentenced to 6 years imprisonment, with 2 years suspended, and 3 years of probation.

On September 7, the court sentenced another suspect in the Awad-kidnapping, James Halston Hodge, to 30 months imprisonment, with 18 months suspended and 3 years of probation.
The sentences against Gumbs and Josepha were conformed the demand by prosecutor mr. B. den Hartigh during the trial on August 31, though Judge Keppels granted Josepha a 6-month sentence reduction for time he had spent too long in a police cell. Sanon, who faced a 6-year prison sentence, found some leniency when the Judge suspended 2 years of the prison term.

Josepha knew Awad from an earlier stay at Pointe Blanche, where the latter was serving 48 months for smuggling drugs on a cruise ship from St. Maarten to the United States. He lured Awad to his home on Billy Folly Road on December 16 of last year. Together with Gumbs and several others he overpowered Awad, handcuffed him, rolled him in a sheet and took him to a house in Middle Region.
There Josepha and Gumbs interrogated Awad, who was operating a road-side showarma place since his release, about drugs and money. They tortured their victim, among others by burning his ears with a cigarette and by holding a hot iron to his legs. They kept Awad, a native of Nablus on the occupied Westbank, tied up on a chair throughout the night, before forcing him to set up an appointment with a man in Cole Bay named Tito, presumably to set up a drug deal, or to rob said Tito of drugs and or money.
This never happened, because when the kidnappers got stuck with their car in a traffic jam in Cay Hill, Awad escaped from the car to safety in the Ace Home Center.

In January, Josepha made another kidnapping attempt, this time on a man named Murray whom he had already robbed once in 2006. When Murray also managed to escape from the car his kidnappers drove, Josepha took several shots at him; this resulted in a charge for attempted manslaughter.

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