Attorney Brooks in Robalo case: a person is presumed innocent until proven guilty

Sint Maarten Courthouse


Attorney Brenda Brooks

PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten — In a press release Attorney Brenda Brooks stated the following: Today our client stood trial for the alleged involvement in the so called Robalo case in which he was accused of human smuggling, forgery and abuse of function as a civil servant. Based on article 6 sub 2 of the European Convention for Human Rights, a person is presumed innocent until proven guilty. In the same Convention it is stipulated that the burden of proof that a crime was committed lies with the Public Prosecutor’s Office.

Today again we observed the blatant disregard for our judicial process aimed at finding the truth, our court, the defendant and all present during the hearing. The Public Prosecutors while given the opportunity to respectfully present their case took on an attitude of disrespect when the defense presented. The seriousness of the case was diminished through the “giggles” openly displayed while the defense tried to make its case to the judge. One wonders why there is a comfort level to display such disrespect?

It is noted that quite often the Prosecutors have no need for a second round in which they could counter the arguments of the defense. In the olden days that second round was seldomly passed on as both Prosecutor and defense had to battle to bring their points across. While the second round was not needed, a press release was already prepared and ready for submission at the end of the case. This release is necessary so that the defendant has the opportunity to be heard on his words and not solely through the eyes of the Public Prosecutor.

This case brought forward lacked the required evidence to support the allegations. The defense used expert witness statement to establish that the authority required to issue a DTAE (Decision to Allow Entry) existed and that a power to decide was mandated to the Director of the Immigration and Border Protection Services. In doing so the allegation that entry was allowed illegally was refuted. The forgery charge could not stand as the prosecution could not support how forgery was committed. Given that all actions were taken within the competency and in accordance to established laws, regulations and procedures, no abuse of function could be supported.

In his last words, E.H. stressed on the impact of the case on his life. The irreparable damages caused through media publications. He stated: “I stand here today, filled with mixed emotions. Foremost I am at peace, confident, and relieved that my innocence is no longer secret … We struggle to reach understanding why ethically doing your job results in one being locked up, socially chastised, and tarnished publicly.  My journey building a reputable career Justice has been under attack. It feels as if have been penalized in so many ways, even before this fair trial. Just google my name, and this negative allegation pops up. I am unable to curate any credible relationship with financial institutions – and still today forced to pay for my Master’s Degree out of pocket. I cannot even secure life insurance, as I am being labelled a politically exposed person due to the high profile of this case, is cause for denial. Now ask yourself if you were in this situation running the risk that something could potentially happen to you, how comfortable can you be knowing that you have nothing in place to secure your son and his mother’s future?”

Much public attention is given to many cases these days without anyone realizing the ramifications surrounding the actions of the Public Prosecutor’s office. In fact, any suspect is tried, convicted and punished even before a case is brought before the court. With such grand media coverage usually only from the side of the Prosecution an impression and preset notion is created by all who read such publications.