Vesuvius trial begins today

POSTED: 10/15/12 4:17 PM

Gang war resulted in seven murders; seven suspects in court at Belair Community Center

St. Maarten – Today the largest criminal trial in St. Maarten’s recent history begins at the Belair Community Center in Cay Hill: Vesuvius. Judge mr. Rick Smid will preside over the trial that is scheduled to last two weeks, with sessions today, tomorrow, Thursday and Friday this week and most likely a similar schedule next week.  The regular court sessions at the courthouse in Philipsburg will continue on Wednesday.

The Public Prosecutor’s Office is prepared for an avalanche of preliminary defense arguments from the six attorneys that will make an appearance in court for the seven defendants. They are mrs. Cor Merx, Mireille Vaders, Brenda Brooks, Peggy Ann Brandon, Ralph Richardson and Geert Hatzmann.

Their opponents on the other end are public prosecutors mrs. Gonda van der Wulp and Bart den Hartigh. The latter came specifically for this trial back from the Netherlands.

The defendants are Andrew Selvin D. (31), Adin Omar Vladimir J. (35), Carlos Alfonso R. (30), Doniel Darryl Th. (who will celebrate his 26th birthday on Wednesday), Erno Desmond Wycliff L. (29), Ekron Sylvan C. (35) and Charles Edmond F. (who turns 37 tomorrow).

The trial is in essence about a turf war between two gangs over control of the local drugs market that resulted in seven execution style murders. The gang war started after Amador Jones stole ten kilos of cocaine from rivaling gang boss Hector Miguel Arrindell early last year. On April 16, Jones was executed by a hired killer, Omax Bye from St. Kitts. That killing set off a whole series of violent and fatal shooting. Hector Miguel Arrindell was the next in line to fall to bullets from his criminal opponents on May 25, a day before he had to appear in court as a suspect in the ill-fated snowflake investigation into a transport of 600 kilos of cocaine to the Netherlands. On July 7, Arrindell’s brother Rodolfo (also a suspect in the snowflake investigation) was shot to death. On August 17 followed the killings of Eric Lake and Kevin Gumbs.

Two days later, on August 19, Sheldon Thomas was shot to death on the Cakehouse road near his house; this murder will also come up during the trial, though it is unclear at this moment where Thomas fits in. On September 18 Anthony Whyte, later identified by the prosecution as a member of the gang led by Amador Jones’ brother Omar J., was shot to death at his home in Dutch Quarter.

The police and the prosecutor’s office established a TGO, a large scale investigation team, and name it Vesuvius. The investigation was tedious because witnesses did not dare to make statements because they feared for their lives. In spite of this the analysts on the team managed to identify a number of suspects. On November 16 of last year it was party time: the seven suspects that appeared in court yesterday were all arrested. The Gendarmerie on the French side detained Kevin M. as suspect number eight.

Now it is time for the court to sort out who did what and what appropriate punishments will be.

The court sessions at the Belair Community Center are open to the public and begin at 9 a.m. every morning, except Wednesday. Like two weeks ago, when the preliminary court session was held, the building will be under heavy security.

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