Snowflake-trial heading for final stages

POSTED: 08/24/11 5:39 PM

St. Maarten – The Snowflake-trial may reach its final stages this morning when the two surviving defendants appear in court. The cocaine-smuggling trial came to a halt on May 26, because the day before the court hearing one of the main suspects, Hector Miguel Arrindell, owner of the Cappuccino Bar in Simpson Bay, was shot to death. On July 7 his brother Rodolfo, also a suspect in the Snowflake-investigation, was shot to death when he came home late at night in Fort Willem.
In May, the prosecution asked the court to declare it inadmissible in the prosecution of the deceased Hector Miguel Arrindell. Tomorrow, the prosecution will have no other choice but to make the same request for the prosecution of Rodolfo Arrindell.
Two other defendants, Michel Jean E. for French St. Maarten, and Elmer Nicandro Virgilio M., from Curacao, will appear in court tomorrow morning.
At stake is the question whether the prosecution is admissible at all. If the court concludes that this is not the case, all charges will be dropped and the defendants will be free to go.
The Snowflake-investigation revolves around the transport of 623 kilos of cocaine from Colombia via St. Maarten to the Netherlands. The drugs have an estimated street value of between $32 and $92 million in Europe. In the course of the investigation, detectives confiscated 170 kilos of cocaine in a house in Cole Bay.
In December of last year the prosecution asked the court to declare it inadmissible after discovering that a police report in the file had been deliberately antedated. Prosecutor mr. B. den Hartigh concluded in December that because of the false date it was no longer possible to establish at what moment the information in the report was known to investigators, and it was also no longer possible to review the material.
But in March, when the case was handed to prosecutor mr. A. Angela from Aruba, the prosecution sang a different tune. According to Angela, the antedated police report was irrelevant. He labeled it as an unnecessary and cosmetic document that did not contain any evidence, and he asked the court to proceed with the trial.
Attorneys for the defendants were outraged. “Unbelievable,” “forgery is a crime,” and “the public prosecutor’s office is bound by expectations it created” were some of the expressions defense lawyers used in a first reaction.
The defense attorneys asked the court to declare the prosecution inadmissible, while prosecutor Angela asked the court to go ahead with the trial. Judge Keppels postponed the trial until May 26, but then the procedures hit another snag due to the murder of Hector Arrindell on the day before the court hearing.

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