PHILIPSBURG–Attorney-at-law Sjamira Roseburg has made an appeal to (future) Members of Parliament (MPs) and said it is a must for Parliament to establish that a Full Court, not one single judge, should make decisions in complicated criminal cases.
A Full Court is a court of law with a greater-than-normal number of judges. Where in the Dutch Caribbean a Court is usually presided over by one judge, a Full Court has three (or more) judges.
The lawyer of Consider it Solved by Roseburg and Partners said that in serious cases in the Caribbean part of the Dutch Kingdom there is only one judge who decides the fate of suspects, while this should actually be three. Only in appeal cases are suspects heard by a panel consisting of three judges.
“This is something that must be amended as quickly as possible through legislation. It is regrettable that this is not the case in St. Maarten, Curaçao, Aruba, Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba.
“We are also ‘part’ of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, but unlike in the Netherlands, in the Court of First Instance, when the case first appears in Court, the case is judged by only one judge. In the Netherlands, this only happens in cases which carry a maximum prison sentence of one year. These are being dealt with by a police judge (‘politierechter’),” Roseburg explained.
This is regulated in Article 369 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, which states that a police judge is not authorised to impose a prison sentence of more than one year.
“We do not know this provision in our Code of Criminal Procedure. This must be adjusted as quickly as possible in our legislation, so that suspects on the islands can receive the same equivalent penalties as is the case in the Netherlands. Now, the punishments in the Caribbean part of the Kingdom are for incomprehensible reasons often higher than in the Netherlands. This must be aligned,” the lawyer stated.
A case in point is Roseburg’s client Jamali Hodge who was sentenced on Thursday to 14 years for manslaughter of a young child in an incident on a public road in St. Peters.
In the view of the defence, this case would never have resulted in a conviction of manslaughter in the Netherlands, but rather of wrongful death caused by her client’s reckless driving behaviour, which would have resulted in a lower penalty.
“Don’t get me wrong, it is very sad what happened that day in St. Peters, but we have to stick to the legal qualifications and not let our emotions play a role, and I believe that emotions had the upper hand in this case. The legal requirements for manslaughter have not been met,” said Roseburg.
Therefore, she had lodged an appeal in this case, but her client decided at the last minute to withdraw. He did so with regard to the recently published points of reference for sentences (“Oriëntatiepunten voor Straftoemeting”) of the National Consultation Subject Content Criminal Law LOVS, because he was afraid that he would receive a higher sentence on appeal.
“After all, the recently released LOVS orientations of the Court do not lie. Jamali was no longer confident and was afraid that the Court would not believe his story. Therefore, client has decided to withdraw his appeal and to serve the 14-year prison sentence,” his lawyer explained.
Bron: Daily Herald