Kidnapping trial postponed until August

POSTED: 06/9/11 12:12 PM

Group tortured Israeli drug dealer before robbing him of his cash

St. Maarten – The trial against three men who are suspected of kidnapping and torturing an Israeli drug dealer on December 16 of last year was postponed until August 31 yesterday, because the defense attorneys want to hear five witnesses. The victim of the kidnapping, 36-year old Nael Othman Awad has already been heard. The prosecution and Judge mr. M. Keppels had no objections to the requests.

On December 16, Awad was accosted at his home by the suspects. They threatened him with the words “don’t fucking move. Be calm,” duct-taped him and blindfolded him, rolled him in a blanket and stuffed him in a car before taking him to a home in Middle Region. There, Awad was duct-taped to a chair. The kidnappers burned his ears with cigarettes and put a hot iron on his leg.

The kidnappers robbed Awad of $50 and €50 before they finally let him go. The charges against the kidnappers also mention an attempt to extort drugs from the victim.

All players in this remarkable crime knew each other. The defendants who were in court yesterday are Roberto Francisco G., 36, Isidro Eddison J., 27, and Jeannot S., 22, who was sentenced in March for a burglary at the Sun Color building.

In March 2007, the Court in First Instance sentenced Awad to 48 months of imprisonment for his role in a drugs smuggling ring that used the cruise liner Mariners of the Sea to bring marijuana from Jamaica to St. Maarten, and cocaine from St. Maarten to the United States. Six others were sentenced at the time together with Awad.

In prison, Awad got acquainted with Isidro Eddison J., who told the court in April that he had shared a cell with him for sixteen months.

Defense attorney mr. G. Hatzmann said that he wanted to hear a witness who reportedly had offered his client Jeannot S. – who wrote history yesterday by being the first Pointe Blanche inmate to appear in court dressed in a shirt and tie – money to make favorable statements about him. The witness, the son of a cab driver who was sentenced to 4 years and 10 months imprisonment in April for his role in a human smuggling ring, is also a suspect in the kidnapping.

“I want to know if my client has been offered anything or if he has been intimidated.”

Another witness, H., who is also a suspect and who has admitted his involvement in the crime,  made statements about S. that do not tally with statements made by Awad, Hatzmann said.

mr. R.M. Stomp, the attorney of defendant Roberto Francisco G. asked the court again to release his client from pretrial detention for medical reasons. G. lost part of his right arm in a machete attack and is waiting for medical treatment in the Dominican Republic, where surgeons will possibly be able to give him a new arm.

Stomp presented a letter to the court from a surgeon in the Dominican Republic, and said that there is apparently an arm available for his client.

But prosecutor mr. B. den Hartigh noted that the letter was a handwritten memorandum dated May 18. “Is there an arm available? I think that is unlikely. Such operations need to take place within 24 or 48 hours after the limb becomes available. There is no urgent need to take such a decision now and I object to suspending the defendant’s detention.”

Judge mr. M. Keppels said that she would take a decision about the request once the defense has completely substantiated it. mr. Stomp said he would do so within the next couple of days.


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