Today’s Opinion: The lost generation

POSTED: 05/13/11 12:27 PM

Now that everything has been said and done about the events that ended Wouter-Jan Romeijn’s life on October 16 of last year, one sad truth remains. No matter how Judge Keppels will rule against the young criminals who ended that life, his family will not get him back.

Marten Romeijn, a boat builder based on Bonaire, followed the trial on Wednesday and yesterday. Most of the time, he was staring intently at the defendants, as if he wanted to imprint the image of their faces in his mind.

But when the case was finally over, and the three defendants stepped out of the courthouse into a police van for their transport to their future home in Pointe Blanche, the stoic Romeijn lost it.

In an understandable outburst of emotion he threw a string of profanities at Stevie R. and Alescio V., two of the three men involved in the robbery and kidnapping, he gave the suspects a piece of his mind. “Die!” he screamed. “You killed my brother.”

Rest assured that Romeijn added a few other terms to these lines. Later he told us that the suspects were actually swearing back at him from the police van.

That last piece of information goes well with a remark prosecutor Ridderbeks made about how the defendants had left the courthouse on Wednesday evening: waving a victory sign and with a big smile on their face. Even yesterday, the defendant who got off with the lightest sentence, Julio Cesar E.-V. had a smile on his face when he stepped into the police van.

So what was there to laugh about? The three suspects are facing prison sentences from 18 to 30 years but they did not seem too bothered about it. Nor did they seem bothered by the fact that they had been instrumental to Romeijn’s death, or by the fact that they had scared four tourists they robbed in Guana Bay forever away from the island.

The question is now: Are these young men that bad or are they plain stupid? Both defense attorneys asked the court for a psychological evaluation of their clients, but these requests have been denied.

It is late in the day for such an examination and it is doubtful whether it would have any effect on the verdict.

One remark from defense attorney Mr. Bary stood out. She asked the court to look at her client Stevie R.’s intentions and to use that as a measuring stick for his punishment. Stevie R. had not intended to kill Wouter-Jan Romeijn. He had not intended to kidnap him, Bary said.

But look what happened. Romeijn was kidnapped and as a result of this kidnapping he lost his life. And Stevie R. was there to do part of the honors.

We have pointed out before that there is a simple way to establish people’s motives. The formula is: intention plus action is result. Therefore, the combination of any action and the result of that action reveal someone’s intention.

We all know what happened to Wouter-Jan Romeijn, and we all know who undertook the actions that resulted in his death.

Considering the attitude of the defendants during and after the trial in combination with the cold facts of the case, there is only one conclusion possible. The defendants had certain needs (for a car, for money, for cell phones, or whatever) and they did anything to satisfy that personal need, regardless of the consequences for others.

The Romeijn –case stood of course out among the long list of charges against these defendants. But let’s look at a robbery they did on a pizza deliveryman on March 6 of last year. What kind of effect did this have on the victim? He was not seriously injured, and the pizzas and the money the robbers took did not even belong to him. But the truth is of course that such an action scares the living daylights out of a victim. We’re not sure how the pizza deliveryman is doing, or if he still feels like delivering pizzas in creepy neighborhoods in Dutch Quarter, but we can well imagine that he is seeing this simple and honorable job through different eyes since March 6 of last year.

So the egocentric behavior of a couple of street punks has had a huge impact on the personal lives of all their victims – the ones who survived that is.

Defense attorney Hatzmann described his clients as exponents of a lost generation and pointed a finger at the government for not having a youth policy, for not creating jobs and for not reaching out to youngsters who are screaming for help.

That is all very nice, but the attitude of his clients showed that these young men live on a different planet. When Marten Romeijn poured his anger and frustration over them yesterday, the defendants could have shown some understanding. They could have said to him that they were sorry.

But they did not do anything like that. Instead, they did what they do best: they returned the justified outburst with some profanities of their own. Hatzmann may have found exponents of a lost generation, but it seems that these particular defendants are lost to the real world forever.

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