Legal action against Justice Ministry by assault victim Alonso Hassel

POSTED: 11/20/14 11:35 PM

St. Maarten – The Ministry of Justice is now facing legal action from Insel Air St. Maarten manager Alanso Hassel, after the latter was assaulted by two “on the block boys” who were riding in the official L1 car of Justice Minister Dennis Richardson on Tuesday night. Hassel believes that as the perpetrators were in the official vehicle of the minister that makes the justice ministry responsible.

At the time the car was being driven by the daughter of the minsters driver and has been identified as Rasida Serrant. Shortly before the incident, Serrant had been sworn in as a Customs officer at a ceremony at Belair, where Minister Dennis Richardson officiated and advised the graduates to carry out their duties in honor and humility while respecting the uniform.  The Minister further instructed them to carry out their duties in the service of the people of St. Maarten and cautioned them to operate within the confines of the law using persuasion and a respectful approach.

Hassel told Today that preceding the incident he was washing his vehicle at the front of his home in the Fort Willem area when he noticed the white L1 vehicle of the justice minister being driven rather erratically to the point that the driver almost drove over his foot and barely missed colliding with his parked vehicle. He said he tapped on the top of the L1 vehicle to get the attention of the driver—whom he said was in full Customs officer uniform and had been engrossed in conversation with a female passenger—but this angered the male passengers sitting at the back of the vehicle.

“The driver stopped the car after I tapped on it and I started talking to her to tell her what she had almost done, but then the two guys jumped from the vehicle and started hitting me. One of them even told me he is going to kill me,” Hassel explained. Hassel admitted that he also used force to defend himself against the “thugs”, but said he was overpowered and that one of the attackers used a metal object to hit him while he was lying on the ground.  He added that after the attack, he called the police department to report the assault, but was told that he should go to the SMCC for treatment and visit the police station on Wednesday to make an official complaint.

In a police report regarding this incident, inspector Ricardo Henson wrote, “on Wednesday November 19 a man filed an official report with the detective department stating that he was attacked, threatened and beaten by two men on the Fort Willem road. He had just finished washing his vehicle when a white car drove towards him in a very irresponsible manner. To draw the attention of the female driver he tapped on the roof of the car with his hand.

“The driver stopped the car and at the same time two unknown young (men)  jumped out of the car, one of which started hitting the victim in his head. While defending himself he was attacked by the second man who also started hitting him in his head with a metal object he pulled from his pocket. During the fight another female came and separated them. This is where the victim was verbally threatened. The suspects jumped back into the car and drove away. This is when the victim noticed that the white vehicle in question was government owned. The victim immediately informed the Central Police Dispatch of the situation and said he would come to file an official report after getting medical attention. The victim has in the meanwhile filed his report which will be sent to the Public Prosecutors Office.”

Hassel meanwhile maintains that he was told by the police that they would not come to the scene and that he should visit the SMMC and then make his police report the following day. “What are we paying taxes for then if the police cannot come to the scene when you call to report an attack?” Hassel asked. He however acknowledged that the police had asked whether he was in a condition to take himself to the SMMC at the time he made the call and further advised him to carry the medical report with him when he came in to make the official complaint.

According to Hassel, he visited the SMMC shortly after the incident where he was treated for his injuries and where a scan had been performed. He said that his foot had been damaged as a result of the attack. He made the official complaint of the incident on Wednesday at the police station and he stressed that he intends to seek legal recourse from all those involved including the Ministry of Justice.

Meanwhile, Today contacted Justice Minister Dennis Richardson for a comment on this situation but he refrained to do so since according to him, he did not have all the facts of the case as yet. Responding to a question on whether the young lady is authorized to drive the L1 vehicle, he said that in principle he doesn’t see a problem since she is a government employee and the vehicle is a government vehicle.

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