Hector and Rodolfo Arrindell, Eric Lake and Kevin Gumbs liquidations – Demand: life imprisonment for gang leader and hit man

POSTED: 10/19/12 11:50 AM

St. Maarten / By Hilbert Haar – The prosecution demanded life imprisonment yesterday against alleged gang leader Omar J. and his hit man Carlos R. for the liquidations of Hector Miguel and Rodolfo Arrindell, Eric Lake and Kevin Gumbs, weapons possession and membership of a criminal organization. Five others defendant are facing prison sentences between 8 and 11 years. It is the second time within a year that the prosecution demands life sentences – unparalleled in St. Maarten’s criminal history.

The defense attorneys will plead for their respective clients next week Monday and Tuesday. On Monday at 9 a.m. mr. Geert Hatzmann will plead for Charles F. 37) who is facing 8 years in prison; at 10 a.m. mr. Peggy-Ann Brandon pleads for Erno L. (29) who is looking at 10 years behind bars. At 2 p.m. mr. Ralph Richardson pleads for Ekron M. (35; demand: 11 years), and at 3.30 p.m. mr.Cor Merx pleads for Andrew D. (30; demand: 9 years).On Tuesday morning mr. Brenda Brooks and mr. Marije Vaders plead for their clients Omar J. (35), Carlos R. (30) and Doniel Th. (26; demand: 9 years).
The prosecution asked the court to acquit Erno L. and Charles F. of the attempted manslaughter on Kennedy Fergus on April 20 of last year, and to acquit Andrew D. of involvement in the Eric Lake and Kevin Gumbs murders on august 17 for lack of evidence.;
The schedule after Tuesday, when the prosecution will respond to the defense arguments has not been announced yet.

On this second day of the so-called Vesuvius-trial five of the seven defendants opted not to appear in the temporary courthouse at the Belair Community Center. Only defendants Andrew D. and Charles F. made an appearance. The main suspects Omar J. and Carlos R. as well as Erno L., Ekron M. and Doniel Th. refused to leave the prison.
“They did not want to be handcuffed,” prosecutor mr. Bart den Hartigh said. “They refused to be present here.”
Attorney Mr. Brenda Brooks said that she had had a discussion about the security measures with Chief Prosecutor Mos who had consulted Commissioner Carl John about the issue. On Monday, four of the seven defendants were handcuffed with a belt around their waist, while three others had ordinary handcuffs that were later removed at the instruction of Judge mr. Rick Smid.
“They are all in the same case and they want to be treated equally,” mr. Brooks said. “They fear for their life if others are able to sit here with their hands free.”
Judge Smid made short shrift of that argument: “They do not decide about being handcuffed or not they probably don’t want to be in prison either. It is their right not wanting to be here, so we will proceed.”
Prosecutor den Hartigh added that the decision by the five defendants is “typical for their attitude in court. They do not cooperate with anything and they think they are above the law.”

Prosecutors den Hartigh and mr. Gonda van der Wulp laid out their case in a 93-page demand that painstakingly examined each of the charges, and started with an introduction that gave an insight in the scope of the investigation.
The large scale investigation team consisting of local officers and colleagues from Curacao, Aruba, Bonaire, and the Netherlands that solved the cases needed 12 months to complete its work. During seven months between 30 and 40 officers worked full time on the investigation. On the “action day” November 16 of last year, when all suspects were arrested) 100 officers were involved. Investigators operated in eleven different countries, heard 30 suspects of whom 26 were detained did 20 house searches and heard 200 witnesses in different countries – some of them several times. The investigators also confiscated 17 firearms, 600 rounds of ammunition, six bulletproof vests and several wigs, air-guns and silencers. The file consists of 30 document files and approximately 10,000 pages. The investigation has cost $2 million; the good news is that the complete investigation was paid from funds available to the national detective collaboration team RST.

mr. Den Hartigh expressed his appreciation for the efforts different services, in particular the RST, contributed to the investigation. “In spite of the deployment for St. Maarten standards enormous number of detectives, the available manpower was still not enough for an investigation of this size. I can assure you that the national police in the Netherlands would never start an investigation like this with so few people and resources.”

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