Court postpones Casablanca human trafficking trial



Source Today Newspaper

GREAT BAY – The Court in First Instance was forced to postpone handling of the so-called Papegaai (Parrot) investigation into human trafficking at the Casablanca brothel yesterday, after attorney Shaira Bommel threatened to desist as the attorney for two of the defendants. The case is now scheduled for handling on March 14.

Four of the five defendants were present in court: David Jonathan E. (32), Calma Josephine P. (67), Jessica Priscilla R. (45) and Augusto Theodore Mcquincy R. (39). The fifth defendant, Mayoline Joan P. (41), who is also a suspect in an investigation into human trafficking at the now defunct Hypnotic brothel, was absent due to medical reasons.

Law enforcement raided Casablanca on November 16, 2015; when the case came to court last year, defense attorney Bommel asked the court to hear several witnesses.

“That request was granted and efforts were made to hear these witnesses. That succeeded, but not for all of them,” the judge said yesterday, adding that Bommel had insisted to hear the remaining witnesses.

“The court has taken a decision about this request that has been communicated by email but it formally has to be announced in court,’ the judge said. “Considering all efforts and the time that has elapsed it is not plausible that these witnesses can be interviewed within a reasonable time. The request has been denied and the request to postpone the case for this reason has also been denied.”

Bommel then told the court that she had assumed the case would be postponed; for this reason she was not prepared sufficiently to defend her clients yesterday. “I did not get a reaction from the court and if the postponement is denied I will desists,” she said.

Judge and attorney quibbled to and fro about the time Bommel had had to prepare her defense. The judge pointed out that the summonses were ready in October of last year. “You should have considered that we would handle the case on merit today.”

But Bommel maintained that she was insufficiently prepared and said in the end that, if the court would give her three weeks, she could manage.

The public prosecutor objected to a postponement for reasons of principle, but went along for practical reasons. “The dossier was ready half a year ago and the summonses too. The witness-interviews have been going on for a year. The argument of insufficient time comes across as not genuine.”

The judge noted in the end that the position of the defense attorney had surprised him.

The case was referred to the docket on March 14 – a Tuesday – that falls outside of the regular court schedule. The court also referred the handling of the case against Joan P. to March 14. On that day, the court will take a decision about handling P.’s case separately on a later date, in combination with the case against her in the Hypnotic investigation.