Human smuggler’s trial stalls due to absence of attorney

POSTED: 08/25/11 12:56 PM

St. Maarten – Jean Journel C. was caught off-guard yesterday afternoon when he appeared in the Court in First Instance to discover that his attorney mr. J.G. Bloem was not present. The defendant, the last suspect to be tried in the Jesus La human smuggling-investigation, celebrated his 51st birthday yesterday as the government’s guest at the Pointe Blanche prison.
The Jesus La is a small vessel that transported 33 illegals from St. Maarten towards Tortola on December 5 of last year. When the vessel was spotted by the Coast Guard, the captain attempted to escape. Instead, he ran his boat onto a reef near Tortola. Before jumping ship and shouting to his passengers, “You never saw the captain.” The Jesus La capsized and eight people drowned, among them several young children.
C.’s trial was initially scheduled for June 9, but on that day his attorney was out with bronchitis. On August 18, mr. Bloem notified the prosecutor’s office and the court of his absence yesterday, but according to the defendant he had not been informed. “I am surprised, he said.
The court postponed the case until September 22.
This morning the appeal of another human smuggler, cab driver Erol Montgomery Bolan is scheduled, but this case will have to be postponed as well because the 64-year old Bolan, who was sentenced to 4 years an 10 months in April. The prosecution considered Bolan a key player in the local human smuggling market. He was however, not charged with involvement in the Jesus La transport, but with two other transports that took place in August and November of last year.

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