Trial human smuggler postponed until September

POSTED: 06/10/11 2:00 PM

St. Maarten – Jean Journel C.,  the last defendant to stand trial in a human smuggling case that cost eight people their life on December 5 of last year, will have to wait for his trial until September 1. Yesterday C. was in court, where statements made by witness Louis Saint-Marc forced prosecutor mr. M.L.P. Ridderbeks to ask for a postponement so that she is able to investigate the validity of these statements.

Saint-Marc was sentenced in April to 4 years and 10 months imprisonment for his involvement in the human smuggling ring. He was also sentenced for membership of a criminal organization. The transport of 33 illegals on the Jesus La towards the US Virgin Islands ended in a drama on December 5 when the overloaded vessel sank near Tortola. Eight passengers drowned.

C.’s attorney mr. J.G. Bloem asked the court to hear Saint-Marc as a witness. Under oath, Saint-Marc maintained that the police never asked him who the people were that collected the passengers for the fatal trip with the Jesus La. According to the police he stated that C. was involved in this activity. But in court Saint-Marc denied this, inspiring prosecutor Ridderbeks to ask the court to draw up a perjury report.

The court put Saint-Marc’s new statement in writing and Judge mr. M. Keppels asked him if he stood by his words. The witness signed the statement and its contents will now be verified against the statements from the police report.

Mr. Bloem asked the court to suspend his client’s detention, but prosecutor Ridderbeks objected and Judge Keppels agreed that there are sufficient reasons to keep the defendant detained.


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