Mistake in summons: car thief acquitted

POSTED: 02/16/12 1:10 PM

St. Maarten – The Court in First Instance acquitted a man who remained illegally in St. Maarten of car theft yesterday morning due to a mistake in the summons. Jesus B.-J., 28, was charged with stealing a car between October 9 and 11 of last year. The defendant, who has in the meantime been deported to his native Dominican Republic, was arrested on October 14. The police report shows that officers found the defendant in the car.
“I saw the car and the keys were in the ignition. I thought I would drive it around for a bit,” B.-J. told the officers.
Prosecutor mr. Dounia Benammar was aware of the discrepancies between the dates in the summons and the date when the defendant was arrested.
“But it still falls within the reasonable term,” she said.
The defendant spent 11 days in preventive custody before he was handed over to immigration for deportation. The prosecutor demanded a 6-month conditional sentence with 3 years of probation.
Attorney mr. Geert Hatzmann admitted that his client had confessed but that his confession did not match the summons.
“This is a simple theft. If it happened at five minutes to midnight or ten minutes later one could argue about the date. But this interpretation is too broad. It does not fit, and I ask the court to acquit my client.”
Judge mr. Monique Keppels acquitted the defendant.
“One day difference is possible, but three days, that is too much,” she said.

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