JUSTICE: Two men accused of assisting in the transfer of illegal people

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Last Sunday, VS drove eight people from the Dutch part to the beach of Anse des Pères in French part, where SH is also located. The latter makes signals with a lamp to a boat.

The eight people, including three children, originally from Albania, Venezuela and India, arrived on the island via Juliana airport and are clandestine. They must return to the virgin islands. They are the victims of human trafficking, which is being investigated by the Sint Maarten police. It contacted its counterparts on the French side.

The beach of Anse des Pères was thus placed under surveillance by border police officers (PAF) who arrested VS and SH in the act on Sunday. The two individuals were taken into custody and then in pre-trial detention before being presented to the local court of Saint-Martin on Wednesday morning. VS and SH are prosecuted for assistance with the entry, movement or illegal stay of foreigners in France.

VS is a 31-year-old Haitian national. He arrived on the island in 2008 but never had a residence permit. He justified having agreed to drive people underground to “earn money”, in this case 400 euros.

SH, 56, is from the Dominican Republic. He is domiciled in part Dutch with his partner and is the holder of a resident card in St Maarten. He was previously involved in a human trafficking case in 2016 but was cleared for lack of evidence.

As the law allows them, the two individuals requested time to prepare their defense and did not agree to be tried in an immediate appearance. The time limit has been granted to them as of right; their trial is postponed to December 4 in Saint-Martin.

The court nevertheless had to rule on their legal situation. The prosecutor requested that they be kept in pre-trial detention in order to be sure that they represent themselves in court. After deliberation, the court chose to place VS and SH under judicial review. The two men must report every day to the border police (PAF) and fix their residence in the French part until December 4. They also had to surrender their passports to the PAF. (soualigapost.com)

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