Man found shot Dead in Hope Estate

January 26, 2017
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Photo By Daily Herald

PHILIPSBURG–Franky Brunache was shot in cold blood, execution-style, by unknown assailant(s) in front of his home in Hope Estate late Tuesday evening. Police arrived on the scene after 11:00pm and found the young man on the floor of a black SUV near the driver’s side.

Police Chief Carl John and a Prosecutor were on scene late Tuesday as investigators were speaking to any possible witnesses trying to piece together what had taken place. Forensic officers also bagged and tagged any possible evidence found at the man’s home.

As the investigation continues, it is still too early to speculate on the reason for the shooting. However, police suspect that the bullets that made multiple holes found on the vehicle caused the victim’s immediate death.

Police spokesman Chief Inspector Ricardo Henson is calling on any person in the community who might have information about the murder to call 911.


For the series of burglaries Prosecutor asked 20 years for Felix Floyd Crawford

June 24, 2016
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GREAT BAY – Prosecutor Karola van Nie demanded 20 years of imprisonment yesterday morning against Felix Floyd C. for a series of nine home burglaries, four armed home robberies, attempted manslaughter on a police officer and firearm and ammunition possession. The court will present an interim-ruling on July 13.

The 38-year old defendant was brought under heavy security into the court room. Outside, the Hendrik Straat next to the courthouse was closed off for all traffic and C. was brought in with a belt around his waist and his hands cuffed close to his sides. He remained like that all through the court hearing that lasted until the early afternoon.

The prosecution has charged C. with nine home burglaries, committed between December 31 2010, and October 21, 2015; the targeted homes are located on Okra Drive, Reward Road, Pumpkin Road, Nevis Drive, Okra Road, Date Mussel Road, Blue Bell Drive and Touch Me Not Road.

The burglary at Date Mussel road, committed on October 17, 2011 stands out, because this was the house of former Chief Commissioner Peter de Witte. C. stole the chief commissioner’s service weapon, a Walther P5, ammunition, jewelry and $13,000 in cash.

The armed robberies took place in 2011 and 2015 at the Touch Me Not Road, the Port of Spain Drive, the Celsius Street, the Calabas Drive and the Pointsetta Road. On September 24, 2015, C. robbed two homes on the Pointsetta Road, but there he ran into a police officer. Making his escape, C. fired shots in the direction of the policeman, and that set him up for an attempted manslaughter charge.

Prosecutor Van Nie said that there have been 28 armed home robberies in 2015. She described the defendant as armed and dangerous, but also as persistent and goal-oriented. “He knows what he is doing,” she said.

He is illegally in St. Maarten and he is illiterate. He has six children and he told the court that his children are the most important in his life. That did not stop him to commit armed robberies in homes where small children were present.

Most of the robberies were committed during the day. All homes were on the outskirts of neighborhoods. At all places where C. stole stuff – mostly electronics and cash – he went into the fridge, took a drink and left the bottle on the sink. That is where investigators found his DNA.

The prosecutor considered all charges proven and told the court that the defendant is wanted in Antigua for armed robberies. She announced that the prosecutor’s office will in a later stadium come with a demand to seize assets from the defendant.

Attorney Sjamira Roseburg asked the court to acquit her client of several burglaries for lack of evidence and of the attempted manslaughter. “There was no intention to kill the police officer. The weapon went off accidentally,” she said. “That happens. He had just committed a burglary and he had his hands full while he attempted to get away.”

Roseburg furthermore said that it is impossible to establish what really has been stolen from the homes. “Victims mention anything to the police that they are unable to find,” she said.

Roseburg objected to the way het client was brought into court. “Like a monster. He cannot use his hands to express himself when he speaks; he has been sitting here handcuffed all morning  and he has been described as a man without a conscience. This is not hardened criminal; he is also a human being. He only stole to survive.”

SOURCE: Today Newspaper

PHOTO: 721 News


House of mafia boss Corallo searched authorize on behalf of Italian authorities

November 29, 2014
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Francesco Corallo-st maarten atlantis casino-ilandvibez

PHILIPSBURG–The National Detectives (Landsrecherche) carried out house searches on premises linked to Fransesco Corallo (54) on Friday, November 28, spokeswoman for the Prosecutor’s Office Tineke Kamps confirmed in a press release.

The searches were conducted following a legal request for assistance by the Italian Public Prosecutor’s Service on behalf of the district-directorate anti-mafia in an investigation by the Guardia di Finanze in Rome.

Corallo has been under investigation in Italy as a suspect in a fraud case, involving the Banco Popolare di Milano (BPM). The director of BPM, Massimo Ponzellini, was put under house arrest on May 29, 2012, under the suspicion of providing a loan of approximately 150 million euros to Corallo’s company Atlantis/BPlus for the purchase of new slot machines in exchange for an alleged bribe of more than one million euros.

The first search was completed in a house belonging to Corallo in Porto Cupecoy, whilst the second raid took place in the company building of Atlantis Casino in Maho. The casino hosts a couple of companies owned by Corallo, together with 48-year-old Rudolf Baetsen, the director of Atlantis Casino.

The searches were led by a Judge of Instruction.

Corallo voluntarily turned himself in to the Italian authorities on August 4, 2013, to answer questions posed by Prosecutor Roberto Pellicano in Milan in connection with alleged irregularities at BPM and Corallo’s involvement in those. The current whereabouts of Corallo, who holds a Dominican passport, are unknown.

Kamps stated that no one had been arrested in connection with the searches, but that the Prosecutor’s Office in St. Maarten could not disclose the content and background of the searches, as they were the result of an international request for assistance.

Norman Serphos of the Prosecutor’s Service in Curacao has said that the Prosecutor’s Office has used the opportunity presented by the searches to have a look for any information relating to investigation “Babel,” the large-scale fraud investigation into former Curaçao Prime Minister Gerrit Schotte and his wife. The case revolves around corruption and the influencing of politics through (illegal) donations, and Schotte was said to have received funds from Corallo in the past.

However, Serphos said that Corallo is not a suspect in the Babel case.

Jeroen Veen, lawyer for Atlantis Casino, said that he was unaware of the searches and had no information about the current whereabouts of Corallo. He pointed out that Corallo had never been a suspect in a criminal investigation in St. Maarten.

Director of Atlantis Casino Rudolf Baetsen was said by his staff to be off-island and was therefore unavailable to comment. The Daily Herald


Maria Buncamper trail begins for tax fraud and being part of a criminal organization

November 29, 2014
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PHILIPSBURG–United People’s (UP) party member Maria Buncamper-Molanus will stand trial for tax fraud, fraud and participation in a criminal organisation.

The pro forma/pre-trial hearing in this case is scheduled for January 7, 2014, Prosecutor Tineke Kamps announced in a press statement on Friday.

Kamps said the Prosecution Service stuck to its word to take a decision about the prosecution in the Buncamper-Molanus investigation before December 1. The prosecutor has decided that 47-year-old “suspect” Buncamper-Molanus “will be summoned.”

“She will have to stand trial for tax fraud, fraud and participation in a criminal organisation.” Buncamper-Molanus’ case concerns an investigation regarding a transaction with a piece of land that was given on long lease.

Buncamper-Molanus ran on the slate of the UP party for the August 29 Parliamentary Elections. She is the former minister of public health, social development and labour.

The case against the Buncampers came to light in December 2010, when it was revealed that Buncamper-Molanus and her husband, Claudius Buncamper, had allegedly sold the economic rights to a plot of land on long lease to a fake company named Eco-Green N.V., against payment of US $3 million.

Buncamper-Molanus had allegedly obtained the rights of long lease on the government property against annual payment of approximately US $10,000 in April 2008, while she was a member of the then Executive Council.

Three days after Eco-Green was established, with a figurehead appointed as company director, the Buncampers sold the economic rights to the land to this company.

The figurehead allegedly was a former worker of the Department of Public Works. Claudius Buncamper was the head of this department for years.

Following the allegations, Buncamper resigned as minister in December 2010. Then Attorney-General Dick Piar had already given permission for a criminal investigation in 2011, but due to a number of big murder cases and several other time-consuming investigations, the Buncamper case had been put on the back burner. – The Daily Herald



Emilien Kruythoff victim of Cape Bay Shooting dies

September 16, 2014
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Emilien Kruythoff

 Emilien Kruythoff victim of Cape Bay Shooting. Photo Facebook

GREAT BAY – Emilien Pompelio Kruythoff died at the St, Maarten Medical Center at 12.25 a.m. on Monday from gunshot wounds he sustained just before midnight at the Aaron Jacobs Drive in Cay Bay. The 26-year old was hit by one or more bullets in the left side of his body.

Police received a report about the shooting around midnight. Police patrols, paramedics, detectives and the forensic department went to Cape Bay to investigate. Officers stopped a car that was leaving the scene at high speed and found that the female driver was actually on her way to the hospital with the victim.

Paramedics had not arrived yet, but they took over on Welfare Road and attended to Kruythoff on the way to the hospital. The staff at the St. Maarten Medical Center attempted to save the victim’s life, but around 12.25 a.m. the doctor pronounced his death.

The police confiscated the body for further investigation. The forensic department closed off the crime scene on Aaron Jacobs Drive and examined the scene for evidence, while detectives spoke with potential witnesses.

Simpson Bay police patrols filed reports that they had been called twice on Sunday evening to investigate a heated dispute between the victim and another man whereby possibly a gun was involved.

A patrol spotted the victim in the area, but when Kruythoff saw the police he took off running through the dark and narrow alleys in the vicinity.

Witnesses told police that they had heard an argument prior to the shooting and that they had heard several shots. The detective department is investigating the case and asking anyone who may have information to call the tip line at #9300 or the police station at 542 22 22.

On August 21, Kruythoff appeared in the Court in First Instance, where the prosecution demanded the execution of a conditional prison sentence for a rather juvenile case of shoplifting, because he had not stuck to the conditions that kept him out of prison.

Kruythoff was under treatment for drug addiction at Turning Point; this was a part of his conviction. According to his attorney Geert Hatzmann he had left the facility because there was nothing more to learn for him there and he thought he was able to stay clean on his own.

“The case was adjourned because he was doing well,” Hatzmann said yesterday. “My client left Turning Point but he went on his own initiative to the prosecutor’s office to explain this and to say that he had found a job.”

The location of the shooting is in the vicinity of Windsor Road in Cay Bay – a well-known hotbed for drug dealing. – TODAY


Election fraud case dismissed, but Vote buying proven

August 27, 2014
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Vote buying editorial cartoon-L

TDH – PHILIPSBURG–The Court of First Instance on Monday declared inadmissible the Prosecutor’s Office’s cases against five persons allegedly involved in selling and buying votes on behalf of United People’s (UP) party in the September 2010 election.

The Judge held it against the Prosecutor’s Office that it had decided to prosecute only five suspects, but had failed to investigate the roles of UP and its leadership in the scheme.

According to the Court, the Prosecutor’s Office had been in default. It had given the impression it was administering “class justice” in its decision to prosecute only the “vote sellers,” who had stated they had asked for money because they were in financial trouble.

In itself, the Judge considered it proven that suspects A.R.W.M. (43), C.J.L.C. (45) and R.C.H.J. (63) had sold their votes in exchange for money and that UP-representative R.H. (60) had offered money in exchange for their votes.

The case against a fifth suspect, G.P.W. (50), was thrown out because she had passed away on June 13.

During the August 4 hearing, the Prosecutor’s Office requested suspended prison sentences of three months, with two years’ probation, 150-200 hours of community service and that the Court take away suspects’ rights to vote. In addition, the Prosecutor requested that R.H. be deprived of his right to be elected.

The Judge decided not to impose any sentences, because this would be unfair and in violation of the legal principle that equal cases must be treated equally.

The Court was highly critical of the Prosecutor’s decision not to investigate the role of UP and its leadership.

The Judge agreed with the Prosecutor’s Office that this case, which had endangered free elections, had caused a lot of commotion in St. Maarten and throughout the kingdom. The case had been damaging to the island’s image.

Based on statements in the case file, the Prosecutor’s Office claimed it was “common” in St. Maarten for representatives of political parties to hand out money and goods in exchange for votes, which is punishable by law.

Selling and buying votes is against the law because these practices violate the principles of free and democratic elections. This specifically applied to the case of R.H., who had tried to influence the election results on behalf of UP, the Prosecutor’s Office had stated.

The Court agreed with the Prosecutor that election fraud is damaging to the foundation of the democratic state as laid down in the Constitution.

“Political parties that are prepared to buy votes favour themselves, as this enables them to delegate more candidates to Parliament. This would effectively mean that Parliament may no longer be considered the highest office within the democratic state of Country St. Maarten; the office which should be representing the people of St. Maarten,” the Judge said.

According to the Judge, the case file contained statements concerning R.H.’s party’s involvement in large-scale vote-buying. The Judge said people had been “standing in rows” in front of the building on Ground Dove Road in Pointe Blanche from which UP had been campaigning for the parliamentary election of September 17, 2010.

Among those obtaining money were the four suspects mentioned, all (former) officers of the then-Police Force of St. Maarten, St. Eustatius and Saba and of Voluntary Corps of St. Maarten VKS.

The Judge said there were indications that UP had its own registration system in place for people requesting money to ensure they would indeed vote for this party.

Control and registration are in violation of free and secret ballots, the Judge said about the practice. “Without the willingness of a political party (leadership) to hand out money and goods in exchange for votes there cannot be election fraud,” he added.

However, the Prosecutor’s Office refrained from prosecuting UP and/or its leadership, which the Judge said was unfair, unjust and unequal treatment in comparison with the five suspects.

The Court specifically held it against the Prosecutor’s Office that the role of UP and its leadership in this case had not even been investigated, whereas the case file itself contained information warranting such an investigation.

The Judge pointed at a statement provided by R.H., who had stated that he was accountable to UP leader Theo Heyliger.

According to information obtained by the Criminal Intelligence Unit, Heyliger allegedly had deposited US $3 million into UP’s election fund out of his own pocket. There were also a number of statements indicating that UP had handed out money in Pointe Blanche.

The Prosecutor’s Office also held this to be true, as it specifically mentioned UP in the suspects’ indictments. In this light, the Judge said it was “incomprehensible” that the judicial authorities had not investigated the party’s role in the election fraud.

Statements made about the National Detectives’ lack of capacity were dismissed by the Court, because the state has to provide a well-equipped Detective Department.

Moreover, the Court said it should have been possible to launch a criminal investigation into the involvement of UP and its leadership in the relatively long period between September 2010 and February 2014, when this case was brought to Court.

The Judge concluded that declaring the Prosecutor’s Office’s cases against suspects inadmissible would serve the eradication of vote-buying and selling better than sentencing suspects four years after the crimes had been committed.

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