Lange Frans-standard does not fly in St. Maarten

POSTED: 09/22/11 2:15 PM

Ten months for firearm possession

St. Maarten – Defense attorney mr. G. Hatzmann introduced the Lange Frans-standard in the Court in First Instance yesterday during a seemingly open and shut case of firearm possession. The argument was original but Judge mr. M. Keppels did not buy it and sentenced Luochino Gregory Rosindo Thomas, 27, to ten months imprisonment, after granting him a 2-month sentence reduction for time he’d spent too long in a police cell.
Police caught Thomas on June 19 driving his scooter and in the possession of a hunting rifle. The defendant, who did not appear in court, told police that he had some problems and that he carried the weapon for his protection.
Prosecutor mr. M. Overmeer however, said that a hefty prison sentence is justified for firearm possession. She referred to the recent spike in violent crime and to earlier court rulings that set the bar for firearm possession at 12 months imprisonment.
“I also consider the ease with which the defendant took the weapon with him and his apparent readiness to use it in case of trouble,” mr. Overmeer said. She demanded the standard 12 months imprisonment.
mr. Hatzmann however, brought the Dutch rapper Lange Frans into the game.
“I’d like to introduce the Lange-Frans standard and ask the court to apply it,” he said.
Lange Frans got involved in a business dispute with his former partner in the rap-scene, Baas B. His girlfriend took a loaded gun and went to Baas B.’s house to settle the dispute. According to Hatzmann the girlfriend was arrested, kept in detention for two days and later sentenced to a 3-month conditional prison sentence and 150 hours of community service.
“The prosecutor is saying that we should not want to have firearms on the island, but the Minister of Justice has a different opinion,” Hatzmann said with a reference to Duncan’s policy on the issuance of gun licenses. He urged the court to take the Dutch situation as its point of departure.
“Otherwise the credibility of the administration of justice in the Kingdom will be undermined.”
mr. Hatzmann referred to a ruling the court pronounced earlier this month whereby a man was sentenced to a conditional sentence for firearm possession.
“The standard sentence of 12 months is under fire, and it is being adjusted downward,” he said.
The attorney also pointed to the cell capacity shortage, saying that cells are needed for defendants who are sentenced for murder, rape, or armed robbery.
Lastly, mr. Hatzmann said that his client had been detained from June 19 until September 13 and that his detention had been suspended due to the unreasonable delay in bringing the case to trial. He asked for a sentence reduction for the time his client spent too long in a police cell, and for an additional 2-month reduction for the delay.
“This has been enough,” Hatzmann said, asking the court to make the sentence equal to the time Thomas, who works in a local restaurant, had already spent in pre-trial detention.
Prosecutor Overmeer dismissed the Lange Frans-standard.
“We have to look at local circumstances. The administration of justice is a matter for the individual countries, not for the Kingdom.”
mr. Keppels agreed with the prosecutor and said that a 12-month sentence was justified. The Judge granted a 2-month reduction for time Thomas spent too long in a police cell and ended the suspension of his detention.

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