Wiels murder suspect Pretu found dead in police cell

POSTED: 09/9/13 2:41 PM

Pretu arrives in Curacao

Florentina, aka Pretu, arrives in Curacao after his arrest in Zoetermeer. Photo Crimesite Camilleri

WILLEMSTAD, Curacao – Luigi Lorenzo Florentina is dead. The 27-year-old committed suicide in his cell in Barber by hanging himself with parts of his clothing, the public prosecutor’s office stated in a press release.

Florentina, aka Pretu (Papiamento, meaning “black”), was arrested in Zoetermeer on June 15 as a suspect in the murder of Raoul Jacinto “Bolle” Martinez, the man who rented the gold-colored Kia Picanto that was used for the May 5 murder of Pueblo Soberano leader Helmin Wiels. Martinez disappeared on the day of the murder; his body was found cut to pieces on Curacao on June 4.

Reactions to the suicide were immediate. Justice Minister Nelson Navarro announced on Saturday that he will step down. It is up to the parliament in Willemstad to accept his resignation.

Members of Wiels’ party Pueblo Soberano reacted outraged to the suicide and announced a demonstration against Justice Minister Navarro this morning. Prime Minister Ivar Asjes, who became the party-leader of PS after Wiels’ death, said in an address this weekend that the suicide is “suspicious.” The parliament will discuss this morning the fate of Justice Minister Navarro.

Florentina was after his arrival in Curacao detained in the heavily guarded naval base Suffisant, but last week he was transferred to a police cell in Barber at the request of his attorney Marije Vaders.

Caribisch Netwerk reported that Vaders visited Florentina on Wednesday for the last time. Her client had said that he was satisfied with his transfer from the naval base to the police cell.

“We had a good talk and we even laughed about a number of things. The news of my client’s death has touched me in particular.”

Vaders said that the detention at Suffisant had been “unbearable” for her client.

“The Judge of Instruction has indeed decided during the past week that my client had to be transferred because the naval base is not suitable for the long-term detention of a suspect. The Public Prosecutor’s Office has opted to place my client in Barber, which tallies with my wishes,” she said.

The attorney said that the safety of detainees is the sole responsibility of the Public Prosecutor’s Office. “The Public Prosecutor’s Office has to make sure that a suspect is detained in an adequate way and place and that his rights are not violated, but also that he does not end up in danger or becomes a danger to himself.”

Vaders is taking some flak for her client’s death all the same. On crime site Camilleri, one Hendrik Schotte commented: “One thing is for sure. Nobody will go to Vaders anymore to be defended. And where is the due caution of justice. Now it appears that there was no danger that others would kill him, but there was danger that others would learn what he knew.”

Florentina was detained for more than 60 days in Suffisant. According to the Judge of Instruction he had to be relocated to a cell that is better equipped for long-term detention. After his death, the marechaussees that were responsible for guarding the suspect have returned to the Netherlands.

Florentina’s death met with disbelief in the Palenstijn district in Zoetermeer, where dozens of members of the No Limit Soldiers gang live. Crime site Camilleri contacted one of the gang members who said that the suicide “stinks.” Florentina and murder-victim Martinez were both members of No Limit Soldiers.

The Public Prosecutor’s Office said in a press release it issued this weekend that Florentina died on Friday evening between 10.30 and 11.15 p.m. At 10.30 p.m. guards checked upon the suspect and he was alive. After the change of the guard at 11 p.m., the next check took place a quarter of an hour later. That is when guards found Florentina’s lifeless body. “Everything points for now to suicide by hanging, whereby the deceased used his own clothing,” the press release states.

According to the prosecutor’s office, Florentina had not shown any suicidal tendencies. Guards checked upon him at least once every hour.

The National Detective Agency immediately started an investigation by questioning the guards who were on duty on Friday evening.

Police Commissioner Malron Wernet confirmed at a press conference on Saturday that Florentina committed suicide. Prosecutor Guillano Schoop also said that everything points to suicide. “Florentina’s death will not stop the investigation into the murder of Helmin Wiels,” Wernet said. “That investigation continues.”

On Thursday Justice Minister Navarro said that Florentina had been placed in a police cell in Barber and not in the local prison, because the possibilities to protect him there were inadequate. Navarro also said that the Wiels murder investigation is progressing well and that he expects the police to come with more information within the foreseeable future.

Currently there is one suspect still in custody, the 43-year-old woman Monica B. Amigoe reported that it will not publish where the woman is detained due to concerns about the suspect’s safety. The Judge of Instruction recently prolonged her pretrial detention with 60 days. It is possible to prolong the detention after this period ends twice with another 30 days before the Public Prosecutor’s Office has to take her to trial.

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