By TODAY NEWSPAPER
GREAT BAY – The three suspects in the Parrot-investigation into human trafficking and exploitation at the Casablanca brothel in Oyster Pond were all released from pretrial detention yesterday afternoon, after having spent, since their arrest on November 16 of last year, almost a year behind bars. The trial against the suspects will take place on February 8 of next year.
Jessica Priscilla R. (45), Augusto Theodore Mcquincy R. (38) and David Jonathan E. (32) were all released from the Pointe Blanche Prison around 4 p.m. yesterday afternoon.
A fourth suspect, Casablanca-owner Calma P. did not appear in court because she is hospitalized after suffering a stroke. Het custody had already been suspended.
A fifth suspect, Hypnotic manager Mayoline Joan P. (41), remains for the time being behind bars, though the court denied the prosecution’s request to terminate the suspension of her pre-trial custody (see related story). Joan P. was however arrested on Monday evening as a suspect in human trafficking at the Hypnotic brothel; she will appear before the judge of instruction today for a decision about holding her for the next eight days.
The prosecution brought a new summons against the defendants charging them with tax fraud. Between February 2013 and January 2015 they submitted incorrect declarations for turnover tax and in 2013 and 2014 they submitted statements about profit tax too late. Between March and November 2015 they underreported turnover.
The trial did not go ahead yesterday because the attorney for David E. and Casablanca NV, Sharia Bommel insisted on hearing more witnesses. Since the court had already allowed these witnesses during an earlier hearing, the trial was postponed. Planning this in December or January was not possible, so Judge Dirk Gruijters in the end set the trial date for February 8, 2017.
Attorney Jairo Bloem had another reason to ask for a postponement because he had received the dossier concerning his client Joan P. twelve days ago but there was no indictment. “Without an indictment I am not going to study a dossier,” Bloem said. There was no objection from the prosecution against his request.
Attorney Sjamira Roseburg brought up the request to terminate or suspend the pre-trial custody of Jessica and Augusto R. and David E. she brought up 22 exculpatory statements from women who claimed that they had not been exploited at the brothel. “Women who have made incriminating statements have filed a request for a new work permit for working at Casa Blanca,” Roseburg said.
Prosecutor Maarten Noordzij pointed out that the pre-trial detention of the defendants continues to meet requests from the defense (to hear witnesses – ed.). “The administration of justice is not like mathematics,” he added. “If there are 22 incriminating statements and 22 exculpatory ones, it does not mean that no crime was committed.” The prosecutor said that there is additional evidence against the suspects and he objected to terminating or suspending their custody.
Judge Gruijters rejected the termination of the pre-trial custody but he granted the suspension – meaning that the defendants will be released, be it under certain conditions.
“They have been detained for almost a year,” the judge observed. “Their personal interest currently carries more weight that the interest of the prosecution.”
The defendants are not allowed to get involved in the management of Casa Blanca and they are not to go near the premises.