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INDOOR MARIJUANA OPERATION IN MIDDLE REGION SHUT DOWN BY POLICE

May 28, 2013
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weed plantation

St. Maarten – Over 200 marijuana plants were confiscated by police officers and members of the VKS during a large drug operation on Saturday morning in the hills of Margareth Bruce’s Drive in Middle Region.

Searches of the area led the investigating officers to several marijuana plantations and numerous potted marijuana plants, where many full grown marijuana plants were put out to dry and prepared for distribution. Besides the plants, many other items used to operate this operation were confiscated.

During the search a brewery of what is called ‘weed wine’ was also located. This wine or substance is produced with use of marijuana and sold for consumption to the public. The police department strongly warns the community, that the production of this so called ‘wine’ is not only illegal but it can be very hazardous to one’s health, especially to youngsters. The Forensic Department has been called in to investigate what is used to produce this weed wine.

Several persons who reside illegally on the island were brought in and turned over the Immigration and Naturalization Department. No suspects have been arrested in this case as the investigation continues.

The police department wants to thank all those partners who assisted them with information carrying out this operation. It also wants to encourage the community to join partnership with them and provide information that help with this type or any other investigation. – TSXM

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SEVERAL ARREST MADE IN FISH DAY SHOOT OUT

May 15, 2013
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MARIGOT–Commandant of the Gendarmerie Paul Betaille said yesterday one suspect “directly connected” to the Fish Day shooting was arrested Tuesday in Orient Bay, to add to previous arrests made last Saturday.

However, the fast moving investigation is far from over. Prosecutor Flavien Noailles also confirmed that four persons were arrested last Saturday, in Chevrise, three minors and one adult over 18 years.

These persons, he said are connected to the May 2, stabbing in Concordia near the Lycée, but it was too early to say if they were involved in the Fish Day shooting. The four were presented before the judge on Monday.

All four are under judicial control. The eldest has been summoned to appear in court again on June 13.

Commandant Betaille stated the investigation continues, noting that more arrests are likely. He indicated the prosecutor plans to hold a press conference at the end of this week.

Meanwhile, an identity control and search for dangerous weapons took place at the Lycée and around the outskirts of the school on Monday, between 6:30am and 7:30am. Some 35 Gendarmes and four Territorial Police officers took part.

Confiscated weapons included: 13 afro-pick combs, three pairs of scissors, two pocket knives and a spoke from a bicycle wheel. – TDH

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GOVERNMENT TAKEN TO COURT BY CIVIL SEVANTS

May 15, 2013
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clair elshotWindward Islands Teachers Union (WITU) President Claire Elshot

PHILIPSBURG–Three teachers have taken the government of St. Maarten and Governor Eugene Holiday to the Civil Servants court, but the workers are open to negotiate out of court settlements with any possible new incoming Education Minister.

Windward Islands Teachers Union (WITU) President Claire Elshot told reporters that the members had first taken the matter to the Ombudsman.

One of the court cases involved someone who is in a permanent function, but is being treated as an on-call teacher. The union president had raised this matter at several earlier press briefings. She had contended that on call or substitute teachers had been complaining that they are being paid according to a “different rate” than full-time teachers. She had said at the time that this should not be the case and might very well be in contravention of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) which promotes equal pay for equal work. She had said in the case of teachers the work load is the same and therefore the remuneration package should be the same.

Two teachers are taking legal action as it relates to the payment of an allowance by means of pension. The two had been denied this allowance when they applied and they are challenging government in court for the payment, which Elshot said they are fully entitled to.

The union president said any new Education Minister who takes office will inherit these issues. She said her members are open to discuss these matters to determine whether an out of court settlement can be reached. A date has not yet been set for the case. Government will first be given three weeks to respond to the claim. Even if they fail to respond they will be automatically given another three weeks, after which it is expected that a court date will be set. – TDH

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No to MP Laville as Minister

May 13, 2013
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romaine laville

Dear Editor, There is no way that MP Romain Laville can pass the screening to be appointed as minister of Country St. Maarten. MP Laville is a suspect in a criminal investigation of which the verdict has not yet been given. MP Laville allegedly threatened to shoot and kill his fellow MP Jules James, who according to his own statement filed an official complaint to that extent with the local authorities.

Seemingly this investigation is still ongoing. I dare the Prime Minister to send on a positive screening result for MP Laville, knowing that the abovementioned investigation is hanging over his head. I am positive that the governor of country St. Maarten, a man of integrity, will not go along with a positive screening result for MP Laville, and as such will not allow the appointment of MP Laville as a minister of Country St. Maarten.

I also believe that it is necessary for the Attorney General of Country Curacao and St. Maarten to have the local investigative agencies take a hard look at the circumstances surrounding the fall of the government. No stone should be left unturned to safeguard the name of country St. Maarten.

This country needs people who are upright, sincere and honest to govern. The days of the dynasty must come to an end. No longer shall the priorities of government be self-enrichment, nepotism and cronyism.

How in the world is it possible that persons, who were known to be normal middle class citizens in a community, join politics, earning salaries as commissioners and council members, which apparently were nothing to talk about, become millionaires and multi-millionaires in a relatively short period of time.

St. Maarten, we can do better.

Todd Peterson – TDH

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YOUNG GIRL IN MIDDLE REGION STABBING BACK IN CUSTODY – Attorney upset about bad communication

May 13, 2013
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St. Maarten –The 17-year-old accomplice in the fatal stabbing of Kimberly Illidge on March 23 in Middle Region identified as E.J. was re-arrested last week Wednesday after the Common Court of Justice granted the appeal against his release from custody by the Judge of Instruction on April 18.

The suspect’s attorney Geert Hatzmann is not happy with the way this went down because he had to hear from a third party last week Thursday that his client had been arrested again.

The public prosecutor has also appealed the release from custody of the main suspect in the stabbing, a 17-year-old girl identified as D.A.B. Because her attorney Shaira Bommel is off island, this appeal was postponed until this upcoming Thursday.

Attorney Hatzmann did not feel free to release a copy of the decision by the Common Court of Justice to the media because the appeal took place in chambers – a non-public hearing – but he did comment on the outcome to this newspaper.

“The ruling reportedly reached me last week Wednesday via the general office-email. My administrative assistant has not seen this email. But why would the court send it to that email? The prosecutor’s office and the court have my personal email address.”

Because attorney Hatzmann missed the email, he was also kept in the dark about the immediate consequences: the fact that the police picked up his client the same day and put him back in a police cell.

“I had to hear through a third party about my client’s arrest on the previous day.  This creates a certain image that is not good.”

The Public Prosecutor’s Office submitted on April 12 a demand to incarcerate Hatzmann’s client, who was at that time held in preventive custody at the police station. Judge of Instruction Koen Luijks dealt with the matter three days later and on April 18, he issued two separate rulings. The first one decreed that the custody was terminated. According to Hatzmann it is not possible to appeal such a decision.

The second ruling rejected the demand to incarcerate the young suspect – and that decision can in principle be appealed.

“The Judge on Instruction stated in his ruling to terminate the preventive custody that day program for young detainees had not been observed since April 5,” the attorney told this newspaper.

Attorney Hatzmann notes that with the decision by the Judge of Instruction, the preventive custody was in fact retroactively terminated per April 5. “That observation is crucial, because article 95 of the code of criminal procedures establishes that it is only possible to order the incarceration of a suspect who is in preventive custody.”

According to Hatzmann this was no longer the case on April 15. “This is why the Judge of Instruction rejected the demand for incarceration because my client was not incarcerated either at the time of the appeal, the court could not have done anything else but declare the prosecution inadmissible or to dismiss the appeal. This is a case of bad communication, ending with a ruling that is certainly up for debate.”

The young suspect was first arrested in the night immediately after the stabbing, in the early morning hours of Monday March 24. While the 17-year-old girl who was with him in Middle region on the Saturday night did the actual stabbing of her 20-year-old adversary, the boy reportedly provided her with the knife.

By law young suspects have to follow a day regime while there are behind bars. When the Judge of Instruction received signals that this program was not being executed, he personally visited the police cells and concluded that the conditions he had set for the continued preventive custody of the young defendants had not been met. He ordered the release of both the boy and the girl.

Judge of Instruction Luijks has ruled consistently in similar cases.

As this newspaper reported on April 19, the judge ordered on February 28 of last year the release of a 15-year-old suspect because he had been put in detention with adults. In September he took a similar decision in favor of a 17-year-old detainee.

Already last year Judge Luijks noted that the deplorable situation for youthful detainees is not new: “It has remained uncontested that the detention of minors in St. Maarten is a problem that has existed for years but that has so far received insufficient attention in the former Netherlands Antilles and in St. Maarten.

“Minors should not become the victim of this even though it has been established that there is a suspicion about a serious fact, that there is a risk that the defendant will do it again, and even if the legal order has been seriously shocked. It’s the competent authorities in St. Maarten’s move.” – TSXM

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SHOOT OUT AT FISH FEST

May 6, 2013
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JONATHAN FREDON – SMIT

French Cul de Sac:— A shooting that took place at the Cul de Sac Bay where the annual Fish Day Event is held has left some five people injured. SMN News learnt that two of the victims died as a result of their wounds but that could not be confirmed by authorities.

Currently, ambulance personnel and the Gendarmes are at the scene investigating while persons from both sides of the island that are at the Cul de Sac Bay are scrambling to leave the location in fear for their lives. Captain of the Gendarmerie Sylvain Jouault confirmed to SMN News that a shooting has taken place at the Cul de Sac Bay where the Fish Day Event is held. Captain Jouault said he did not have details on the shooting as he and other law enforcement were on their way to the scene. SMN News will bring you more information as it becomes available.

SMN News learnt that one of the victims is a man that sells natural juices around the island. The natural juice man vendor SMN News understands lives in Agrement while another victim is a younger person from Chevries on French St. Martin, a third victim is said to be a Caucasian female whom it is understood was shot in her throat.

Deputy of French St. Martin Daniel Gibbs told SMN News that he was on the Bay when the shooting occurred. Deputy Gibbs said he was on the bay during the morning hours when the official ceremony took place. He said he left the bay and went home but returned later in the afternoon to enjoy the evening when the shooting took place. Gibbs said he did not see what transpired because his main objective was to get out of the area and to get home.

A resident of Cul de Sac said the 2013 Fish Day was the largest event ever. The resident who preferred to remain anonymous said there were about 20,000 people in attendance including several government officials from the Dutch side of the island. SMN News could not reach the Commandant or Captain of the Gendarmerie for further update Sunday evening.- SMNN

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Chucky badly wounded in prison riot (UPDATED)

May 5, 2013
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omarsmithnelson

Pointe Blanche:— A prison riot that began early Saturday morning has left Omar Smith Nelson better known as Chucky with either his hand or fingers severed. SMN News learned that Nelson was seriously injured on his arms and legs. At least two ambulances and a number of police vehicles were seen racing to the Point Blanche House of Detention shortly after 9am on Saturday morning. A reliable source from the prison said that Chucky was severely injured during the prison fracas that involved several prisoners. The source said that the other prisoners severed either the arm or some of Chucky’s fingers. He was said to be in serious but stable condition at the St. Maarten Medical Center. SMN News has been informed that the Police Department is currently investigating.

Omar Smith Nelson (Chucky) is a well known prisoner who is currently serving an 18 year prison sentence for the murder of Wouter Romejn. Chucky Nelson escaped from the Pointe Blanche House of Detention in March 2011. He was recaptured on August 29th, 2011 in an apartment on Nazarette Drive, Dutch Quarter. Chucky was later charged and convicted for escaping from the Prison, two armed robberies, and a kidnapping.

Prison Director Edward Rohan could not be reached on Saturday morning for a comment. SMN News also could not reach Chief Prosecutor Hans Mos for a comment on the incident that occurred Saturday morning leaving one prisoner injured.

SMN News learnt that the police and Minister of Justice could not reach the Prison Director Edward Rohan when the fight broke out. Later Rohan showed up at the Prison Facility where the fight and investigation took place.
Chief Commissioner of Police Peter de Witte told SMN News in an invited comment that police were called to the prison facility to provide assistance because of a fight. De Witte said based on their preliminary investigation it appears as though several prisoners were involved in the fight leaving one of them severely injured in his hand and legs. The top cop said that the victim has been seriously injured but his hand or fingers were not severed. “At first those that attended to the victim felt that his fingers were cut off because of the amount of blood but that is not the case.” De Witte also confirmed that police arrested one prisoner (suspect) that was involved in the fight while the injured prisoner Omar Nelson better known as Chucky is now a patient at the St. Maarten Medical Center.
De Witte said that it is possible that other prisoners that were involved in the early morning fracas will be arrested as they progress with the investigations. “Presently the detectives are interrogating the suspect and the Prison Guards that were on duty when the fight broke out on Saturday morning.”
Chief Commissioner of Police Peter de Witte made clear that the Police Management is not in charge of the prison facilities including the holding cells at the Philipsburg Police Station. “The persons that have to give information about the Prison are the Director of the Prison Facility or the Chief Prosecutor that oversees the prison. The only reason the police is involved in this case is because a crime has been committed inside the prison.”  – SMNN

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ST MAARTEN CARNIVAL 2013 HAS COME TO BEAUTIFUL END !

May 3, 2013
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BURING THE MOMO 2013

About five bands were rushed from Madame Estate onto A.Th. Illidge Road and into the Carnival Village as persons gathered for the “last lap” of St. Maarten’s 44th carnival. With two bands actually having a crowd behind them, this final jump up symbolized the official closing of the carnival season. Powder, psychedelic wigs, multicoloured socks and bare feet all joined to make up the final jump up. King Momo, the life-sized doll, was decked out in gold pants, a green top, a green crown, a blue cape and was burned at midnight, officially ending Carnival 44. St. Maarten Carnival Development Foundation (SCDF) President Mike Granger administered closing remarks at the ceremony as well. – THD

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School has reopened, no changes to vacation schedule

May 3, 2013
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~ Individuals urged to refrain from misinforming public ~

PHILIPSBURG–Education Minister Silveria Jacobs has not taken any decision to close school on Thursday, May 2 and parents are reminded that it is their responsibility to ensure that their children report to school.

This was the message from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Youth and Sports on Thursday. The ministry said in a press release that the Carnival, Queens Birthday and Labour Day vacation for schools ended on Wednesday May 1. Regular classes resumed on Thursday. “There has been no approved change to the 2012/2013 vacation schedule. Therefore all parents are reminded that it is their responsibility to ensure that their children report to school,” it was stated in the release.

The Ministry said any decision by the Minister to close school on Thursday, would have been communicated formally through the media. “Parents are encouraged to ensure that their children report to school and are asked not to take heed of messages forwarded via smart phones or other means of communication that reports school closures other than that communicated through the Ministry of Education, Culture, Youth and Sports.”

“In addition, persons issuing statements regarding school closures without formal directives from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Youth and Sports are strongly urged to refrain from such behaviour as it misinforms the public and could adversely affect children and their education.”

The ministry issued the release after some apparent confusion among some parents as to whether school had been closed on Thursday allegedly based on a statement made by a radio announcer that there was no school.

In a separate statement, the management of the Milton Peters College and Sundial School said many students did not attend school on Thursday. MPC and Sundial School General Director Wim de Visser reminded parents that school had resumed and that it is a regular school day today, Friday.

The school said many students have grown into the habit of “extending their vacation” and not showing up on the last days of the week. “In doing so, they violate the school rules at the risk of being penalized. We rely on you as parents to ensure that your child adheres to the rule concerning vacation,” de Visser said.- TDH

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Survivors win, in one of the Best Carnival Parade in years

May 3, 2013
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SURVIVOR DANCERS CARNIVAL 2013

ST MAARTEN – Nineteen troupes with countless revelers  including visiting troupes from Curaçao and Antigua, and individual Carnival participants, all adorned in sequins, feathers, larger-than-life headpieces, rhinestones and colorful fabric took part in St. Maarten’s 44th Grand Carnival Parade Tuesday and Wednesday symbolizing the high point of the festive season.

Many among the crowds lining the streets thought the lineup was the best seen in years. The amalgamation of vibrant colors began at St. John’s Estate at 10:00am and made its way down L.B. Scott Road and Bush Road, up Front Street and on-wards towards Carnival Village.

St. Maarten Carnival Development Foundation (SCDF) opened the parade with its float, band and Carnival queens, followed by UTS, Gordon Yee’s troupe “Gems of St. Maarten,” the visiting troupe from Curaçao, a troupe representing the Dominicano community, Survivors Production Foundation, St. Maarten Medical Center with “Bedazzled Warriors,” Soualiga Revellers, Hot ‘n Spicy, Floral Beauties, a visiting Antigua troupe sporting the Antiguan flag within their Carnival costumes, Brenda Wathey’s troupe and the TelEm troupe complete with choreographed dancing ending the nearly-eight-hour parade.

The Survivors troupe under the leadership of Jasmine Philips won the top prize in the Grand Carnival Parade. Gordon Yee’s “Gems of St. Maarten” won first runner-up honours while “Bedazzled Warriors” of St. Maarten Medical Center (SMMC) won second runner-up honours. This year was SMMC’s first time participating in the Grand Carnival Parade.

The individual costume prize went to “Mystic Jade” and Randolph Scott won the top prize for Best Float: “Old Wife Fish.”

“Congratulations to all of our winners and to everyone who took part in the Grand Carnival Parade 2013,” a statement from SCDF said.

Participants and parade watchers danced to contemporary hits like “Gangnam Style,” among other favourites fused with the Caribbean tempo, showing off their costumes of meticulously decorated shoulder, arm-and-leg pieces, vibrant two-pieces and individual costumes sporting shapely designs and colourful accessories.

A couple of gaps on Front Street that left the crowds waiting for an average of 15 minutes for the following troupe to make its way past them did not stop Carnival watchers from enjoying the parade and were the crowds’ only complaint, although some left, thinking the parade was over.

Those in the crowds also took advantage of items that were being given away or sometimes thrown into the crowd from the different business groups that also participated in the parade. Lucky Carnival watchers walked away with T-shirts, mini-purses and the like as memorabilia for this year’s Carnival.-TDH

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