Trial cocaine smugglers postponed until month’s end

POSTED: 10/6/11 1:03 PM

St. Maarten – The Court in First Instance postponed the trial of three suspects in a cocaine-smuggling case until October 27. Victor G., 26, Pedro G., 37, and Roberto Bernard F., 54, are accused of an attempt to export 10.3 kilos of cocaine with an estimated value of more than $70,000 on June 25. F. is also accused of firearm possession.
On that day, police arrested six people. In a press release, the police stated that the arrests were made after several months of surveillance. Police officers confiscated 10.3 kilos of cocaine, $20,000 in cash, two shotguns, ammunition, a yacht and a dinghy.
The three defendants that were in court yesterday hail from St. Maarten, St. Croix and Puerto Rico. The other three that were arrested in June are from Statia, St. Lucia and the US Virgin Islands.
Prosecutor Mr. D.M. Benammar asked the court to postpone the case. mr. C.H.J. Merx, the attorney for Roberto F. asked the court to hear three witnesses about an accusation at his client’s address that he had threatened someone in the Pointe Blanche prison. The court allowed one witness, the man who claims that he was threatened to be heard at the Judge of Instruction.
mr. S.R. Bommel asked the court to suspend the detention of her client Victor G., because there are no indications in the case file that he is in any way involved and because the other two defendants also have said that he has nothing to do with the cocaine.
Judge mr. M. Keppels rejected the request, saying that there are sufficient serious objections to the defendant’s release.
If convicted, the defendants are looking at a lengthy stay behind bars. In earlier cases, the court has sentenced cocaine smugglers to sentences from 12 to 18 months imprisonment. In two cases, the suspects were caught with half a kilo of the drugs, and they were sent away for 16 to 18 months, but in one other case, whereby a drub mule coming from Curacao was caught with 1.2 kilos, the court gave a sentence of just 12 months.

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