Soft drug users get conditional fine

POSTED: 01/18/13 1:58 PM

St. Maarten – It was not a happy ending of the year for Charles Henri Bonnaud and Williams Martes when they ran into a traffic control on December 30. The butt of a just finished joint in the car’s ashtray gave officers reason to search the vehicle. All in all they found 200 grams of marijuana, neatly packed in 35 small plastic bags. Bonnaud turned out to be the owner of 116 grams of the soft drug, Martes owned the remaining 84 grams.
The two defendants told the court that the drugs were for personal use. “Why buy such a large amount and then package it that way?” Judge Tamara Tijhuis wondered.

Prosecutor Georges van den Eshof said that the two defendants were charged with possession, and that there is no proof for a dealer-indication. Still, he advised the two men to be careful: “We are not as easy here with soft drugs as they are in the Netherlands.”
The prosecutor demanded a 450-guilder ($250) fine against Bonnaud and a 400-guilder ($223) fine against Martes.

Attorney Geert Hatzmann said that the proof for possession is there. “But I want to compliment my clients for their behavior. It was not possible to get in touch with them by phone and in such cases defendants often do not turn up in court. But they are here to take responsibility.”
mr. Hatzmann likened chasing people for the possession of soft drugs with a witch hunt. “Drinking can also be very damaging. And what to think about our casinos where people gamble away their complete paycheck while they have children to feed at home? People that are caught blind drunk behind the wheel and who hit a lamp post are taken to the police station to sleep off their intoxication. My clients have been locked up for four days and that ought to be enough. They are guilty, but they should not be treated like criminals.”
Prosecutor van den Eshof had a brief response to the attorney’s plea: “we are executing the law. If you want to change the law you have to be across the street at the parliament building.”
Judge Mr. Tamara Tijhuis sentenced both men to the 4 days imprisonment they already served and she made their fines conditional.

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