PHILIPSBURG–The Prosecutor’s Office on Wednesday requested a 36-month prison sentence, six of which are to be suspended, on two years’ probation for suspect J.L. (52), accused of operating an illegal brothel on Windsor Road in Cay Bay.
The Prosecutor also requested forfeiture of seized cash amounts of US $2,766, NAf. 1,515 and 1,550 euros found inside a hidden compartment in the suspect’s bedroom.
The so-called “MUS” investigation started following an economic control of Juan Bar, during which it became evident that illegal prostitution was taking place in several containers on the premises.
The inspection emerged following a violent incident on September 21, 2017, during which an undocumented sex worker at Juan Bar allegedly was thrown out of a car and battered.
After the incident an in-depth investigation was launched leading to the discovery of additional undocumented sex workers on December 19, 2017. A total of seven women were found to be working at the Bar. They originated from Colombia, Suriname, Curaçao and the Dominican Republic.
L. was charged with inflicting severe bodily harm in the September 2017 incident, running an illegal brothel and the illegal employment of 11 sex workers.
The defendant, who was born in the Dominican Republic, claimed he did not force the woman and only rented out rooms for a fee of $10 per day.
He said he was not interested in what the ladies were doing in these rooms, but also sold condoms and Viagra pills to customers.
According to the Prosecutor, the defendant sold more than “cock and bull stories and hard liquor. He ran a brothel on the outer edges of society.”
The Prosecutor found human smuggling, illegal employment and mistreatment proven, but did not find severe mistreatment proven as he believed the defendant’s statement that he had slapped the woman in her face with a flat hand.
Suspect had a “total disrespect of women and did not shun violence. Women should be protected,” the Prosecutor said.
The Prosecutor pointed out that while the regulation of the adult-entertainment industry is still being discussed on a legislative level, punishment serves to prevent further human trafficking practices.
Attorney-at-law Safira Ibrahim called for her client’s full acquittal of the mistreatment charges. She also stated her client should be acquitted of human smuggling as the women had “all freedom in the world.”
The lawyer claimed her client had not been operating a brothel but had only made a living by operating a deli restaurant and bar, while also holding licences for an Internet café, copy shop and administrative business.
Ibrahim said her client, who has been residing in St. Maarten since 1986, had Juan Bar in operation for eight years. She said the monies that were found in her client’s bedroom were his savings.
The lawyer stated L. had already been punished sufficiently as Juan Bar was plundered after his arrest. Five men were sentenced by the Court of First Instance last week Thursday for burglarising the establishment. All were sentenced to perform community service.
Ibrahim said her client had been held in pre-trial detention for 83 days. He was released on March 12. The Judge will pronounce the verdict in this case April 18.
Bron: Daily Herald