Otto on trial here for shooting in Curacao

POSTED: 04/25/12 3:55 PM

GREAT BAY – To the dismay of Justice Minister Roland Duncan, convicted killer Devon Otto will be tried in St. Maarten in June for a shooting that took place in the prison in Willemstad on September 13 of last year. Otto is serving a 30-year sentence for the March 31, 2008 murder of census office employee Stanley Gumbs in a case of mistaken identity.

After his conviction he was transferred to the Bon Futuro prison (by the Schotte-government renames as Sentro di Detenshon i Korekshon) in Curacao because he had become unmanageable for the staff at the Pointe Blanche prison.

On September 13 of last year he allegedly emptied a Smith & Wesson revolver at two fellow-inmates, 39-year-old Lysander Kani and 37-year-old S.A.S. Kani was seriously injured. Rumors are that Otto was paid by members of a rival drug gang to kill the two inmates.

After the shooting, Curacao’s justice minister demanded that Otto be sent back to where he came from: St. Maarten. Otto, who hails from St. Kitts, has been described by Chief Prosecutor Hans Mos as a very dangerous man.

Attempts by Minister Duncan to have Otto transferred to a high security prison in the Netherlands met with a refusal. “They said that he has to await his trial here first,” the minister told this newspaper.

Duncan added that Curacao did not want the Otto-trial because the defendant is so dangerous.

“Officially we have nothing to do with this case,” Chief Prosecutor Mos said. “But the Common Court has the authority to decide where a trial takes place.”

The standard rule is that trial take place in the territory where a crime is committed or in the territory where the suspect is arrested. In Otto’s case, the crime he has to stand trial for was committed in the prison in Curacao and he was obviously also arrested there.

Chief Prosecutor Mos popped the question about Otto’s trial to his colleague at the prosecutor’s office in Curacao who had suggested to do the trial in St. Maarten. “Is it at all possible to try Otto in another country than the one where the crime was committed (Curacao), while the suspect does not have the Dutch nationality and formally also does not have residence here?”

The answer is to be found in article 10 of the Kingdom Law that regulates the Common Court of Justice. While Aruba, Curacao and St. Maarten each have their own Court in First Instance, the board of the Common Court has the authority “to determine in extraordinary circumstances that these courts in first instance go in session in one of the other countries.”

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