By Today Newspaper
GREAT BAY – Faced with irrefutable evidence, 35-year old Nathanael Alberto C.A. flat-out denied to the court that he had done anything wrong, like slashing a man with a machete on July 29, 2013. Prosecutor Karola van Nie demanded 4 years of imprisonment for attempted manslaughter. The court will pronounce its ruling in three weeks, on September 9.
A day before the alleged machete-attack a Spanish-speaking man sexually assaulted a woman. Her boyfriend Romano went together with her to an apartment behind the Peking supermarket in Simpson Bay where this man lived with his grandmother. The defendant, nicknamed Bolita was at this place. When an argument arose at the door, Bolita came out swinging with a machete. He first hit Romano on his wrist with the weapon and after his victim ran away, he chased him and then struck him in the neck.
The victim sustained deep cuts that have caused permanent scars. Two years after the incident, he is still unable to make full use of his injured hand. He also lost his job in the process.
Prosecutor Karola van Nie said that the grandmother had cleaned the machete after the attack and that Bolita had disappeared for a long time. The police was unable to find him, though he was spotted on several occasions. “I will never forget his face,” the victim said about the defendant to investigators.
Bolita told the court a completely different story: Romano had damaged the apartment’s door and he had come armed with a knife and a baton. He claims to have taken the knife from Romano and to have stabbed him with it.
Later the defendant even told the court that he does not know the victim. He also denied that he ever told the police that he had hit Romano with a machete.
All this, according to the defendant, was a plot by a police officer “who wanted a relationship with my girlfriend.” He also claimed that the police had threatened to send him back to Santo Domingo if he did not confess.
Judge Maria Paulides was incredulous: “So the plaintiff, the witnesses and the police made this all up?”
The defendant is the father of seven children. His girlfriend now lives in the Dominican Republic because she has been deported. The man worked as an independent mechanic. According to a psychological report, he has a low intelligence, though he is capable to distinguish between right and wrong. The risk that he will commit similar crimes is above average, according to the report. “He shows no regret and takes little responsibility for his actions,” the report states. “He is in a slightly diminished state of accountability.”
Prosecutor Karola van Nie considers the charges against the defendant legally and convincingly proven, based on the complaint, the medical report and witness statements. “Witnesses have not seen that the victim had a knife or a baton,” she said.
“The defendant has admitted to the police that he used the machete and I hold him to that statement. There is at least conditional intent. This was a vicious action with permanent consequences. The scars remain, the hand cannot be fully used and the victim lost his job.”
The number of disputes that are settled with machetes on the island is alarmingly high, the prosecutor said. “This defendant does not take responsibility. He fled after the attack, so he did know how serious it is what he has done.”
Attorney Geert Hatzmann was in a bit of a bind: “I am not going to abandon my client but I am not going to say something that I do not believe in either. So forget about the conspiracy theory.”
Hatzmann described the dossier of the case as “weird.” His main bone of contention was that the statement of his Spanish-speaking client was written in Dutch. “Does he know what he has signed? It is about time to record interrogations; that would be good for truth-finding. Why not make these statements in his mother tongue? There are enough officers who speak four or five languages.”
Hatzmann said that this way, his client is unable to oversee what is in his statement. He called for a sentence reduction because of this aspect, and also because the incident happened a long time ago.
“That the risk of a repeat is above average is irrelevant, because my client is illegal and he will be deported,” Hatzmann noted.
Prosecutor Van Nie said that there will always be language problems, but that the defendant has had a fair trial. “I am prepared to discuss this further with you outside this court session,” she told Hatzmann.
In his last word, Bolita remained true to his nature: “I did not do anything,” he said.