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Doranyia Pascal crowned as Junior Carnival Queen

page1a278PHILIPSBURG--Junior Carnival Queen candidates charmed a panel of judges and an enthusiastic crowd Sunday evening as they vied for the winning title, taken by Doranyia Pascal who won three of four performance categories.

Pascal was named best in the Talent, Carnival Costume and Princess Wear categories, with a total of 480 points.

In the Talent segment, she performed a vocally demanding “Listen” by Beyonce, in a short skit featuring her as a pupil who wants to take her schoolwork seriously despite her fame-hungry mother who pushes her towards too many entertainment auditions.

Her yellow, green and orange Carnival Costume featured feathers and masks, while she won in Princess Wear with a grand blue and purple dress. She wore an unfading smile throughout.

Aaliyahe Harrigan was named first runner-up with 416 points, She also was named Miss Popularity according to a live vote, as well as Miss Amity.

Second runner-up went to Radiah Mathew with 404 points.

Two women arrested trying to smuggle drugs into prison

POINTE BLANCHE--Two women, one of whom is a teenager, were arrested on Sunday, for trying to smuggle marijuana and Ecstasy XTC pills into the Pointe Blanche Prison at different times.

Police spokesperson Inspector Ricardo Henson said both women went to visit “an inmate” at the prison at around 10:00am and 12:45pm at the time of their arrest. The first suspect with initials LD (19) was caught with three small plastic bags each containing an amount of marijuana and a small Ziploc bag containing eight XTC pills.

The second suspect with initials CC (22) was caught with two small plastic bags containing an amount of marijuana and a Ziploc bag containing 30 XTC pills. The suspects were arrested by police and taken to the Philipsburg Police Station where they remain in custody pending further investigation.

The marijuana and XTC pills were also confiscated for further investigation.

Red Cross calls halt to Carnival assistance

POND ISLAND--St. Maarten Red Cross has brought its assistance to Carnival 2015 activities to a halt. Board President Paul Martens said Sunday St. Maarten Carnival Development Foundation (SCDF) would first have to settle its debts with the aid organization before Red Cross volunteers would be available to provide first aid and other emergency care to revellers during this year's Carnival festivities.

Assistance at events to ensure that visitors can obtain emergency care in case something would happen is among the volunteer organisation's main tasks, which also include disaster relief, hurricane recovery and international assistance programmes.

Normally, some 10 to 15 Red Cross volunteers are present at every event in Festival Village, including shows, concerts and pageants, as well as during Jump-ups and parades. Members of the Red Cross Youth Chapter are also on duty during parades, but do not participate in (late-) night events. Similar services are also provided during other events, including the Heineken Regatta.

Martens explained that non-governmental organisation Red Cross is providing its services for free, but expenses, including fuel for vehicles and bandages and dressings, are covered by event organisers.

According to Red Cross, SCDF has a backlog of approximately US $6,000 in payment for services rendered during Carnival 2013 and 2014. "As it stands now we will have to pay these expenses from our own reserves," said Martens.

Red Cross had been in "endless correspondence" with SCDF to solve the problem. "They have made pledges to solve the problem, but only silence followed. We have not heard anything from them since," Martens said. Efforts by the Ambulance Department to mediate also did not lead to any results, according to the board president.

The Red Cross board president underlined that his organization has not launched a total Carnival boycott. "It is a shame it has come this far," said Martens. "In case we were to receive a cheque by tomorrow we would be back in the Village again immediately," he assured.

SCDF President Michael Granger said the organization had a lot to say about this issue, "but we are in the midst of Carnival season and will keep it brief for now," he said.

According to SCDF, the issue only concerns an "open invoice" from 2013. "We don't owe anything for 2014," Granger explained.

"SCDF has already discussed the issue with the Ambulance Department and is working on a solution before the parades of April 30 and May 1, when we would typically welcome the presence of the Red Cross. We would like to note, however, that this outstanding [amount - Ed.] was derived from an apparent miscommunication between specific persons and not something SCDF had budgeted and neglected to pay. We will elaborate on our position at a later date," said Granger.

The SCDF President asserted that the Ambulance Department and Windward Islands Emergency Medical Services (WIEMS) were still providing first aid and other medical assistance to revellers during the 2015 Carnival season.

12-year-old, three teens among five arrested for robbing supermarkets

~ One works at security company ~

PHILIPSBURG--A twelve-year-old and three teenagers were amongst five persons arrested on Saturday on suspicion of the armed robberies of three supermarkets at different locations on the island.

Police spokesperson Inspector Ricardo Henson said one of the suspects was employed at "a well-known" security company in the country.

The first robbery took place at Yen Yen Supermarket in Sucker Garden around 8:00pm Saturday. Police Spokesperson Ricardo Henson said three armed men dressed completely in black had stormed into the supermarket and robbed the establishment of an undisclosed amount of cash. The robbers then ran away towards Hope Estate.

The second robbery took place at Golden City Supermarket in Cole Bay shortly after 9:20pm. According to reports, two armed men dressed completely in black stormed into that establishment. One robber had a handgun and the other a machete. After stealing "all the money" from the establishment's cash register, the robbers fled by foot behind the supermarket.

The third robbery took place at Trey Wha Restaurant in Cole Bay at approximately 10:20pm when, according to reports, four men also dressed in black clothing and armed with knives and guns stormed into the establishment. They threatened customers present and forced the manager to open the cash register.

After taking the money from the register they ran, jumped into a black Suzuki Ignis with licence plate P-6042 and drove away towards Kruythoff Roundabout. This information was passed on to 911 and police patrols on the streets were notified.

Henson said in a police press release issued on Sunday that a police patrol had seen the vehicle driving on Link 1 toward Philipsburg. The patrol chased the vehicle and forced the driver to stop at the entrance of Fort Willem in the vicinity of Great Bay Beach Hotel. In an attempt to continue fleeing, the driver slammed into the police vehicle, causing "quite some damage" to the left fender and bumper, Henson said.

All five male occupants of the vehicle, ages 12, 14, 15, 18 and 25, were arrested on the spot on suspicion of armed robbery and taken to the Philipsburg police station where they remain in custody pending further investigation.

A revolver was found during a search of the vehicle. The firearm and the suspect vehicle were confiscated for further investigation. Henson said it was too early to determine whether the suspects were definitely responsible for all three robberies.

Rik Bergman now certified mediator

CAY HILL--Rik Bergman, attorney and partner with BZSE Attorneys-at-Law, is now the country's first and only certified mediator who is going to structurally integrate mediation into his law practice on St. Maarten. Bergman completed his training at the Lime Tree Institute for Mediation in The Netherlands and has already successfully handled four mediation cases to the benefit of all parties involved in disputes.

His certification has added a new dimension to the leading law firm's services to clients – a fully certified mediator. The use of mediation in civil cases is a viable alternative and legal alternative to going to court.

Bergman said mediation is a well proven alternative to a traditional court case. "Both parties play an equal role, and together with the mediator look for a solution that is acceptable for both of them. It promotes reconciliation between the parties, enabling them to maintain or restore a harmonious relationship while preserving their bond of trust."

"It's like being a referee. It's a much different approach from being a lawyer. A mediator is instrumental in working to and achieving the right solution," said Bergman. "In mediation, the focus is not on determining which party is right, but rather on finding a solution that is acceptable to both parties."

Bergman was drawn to pursue studies in mediation after seeing the need for it in the country. He saw first-hand the impact of mediation when he served as dean of the St. Maarten Bar Association. "Mediation was easy to solve disputes. I developed some skills as dean."

"Our judges are overloaded. Mediation helps to bring binding resolutions for parties involved and it is proven that people who choose mediation are very happy after finalization," said Bergman.

The reason for the ultimate satisfaction with the mediation route is that all parties are involved in coming to a resolution, while in a court case, the verdict relies on the judge reviewing the stand point of both sides, often delivered separately.

Unlike a hearing before a court, the parties do not have to go through a lengthy judicial process, since they set the pace for the meetings and the mediation schedule themselves together with the mediator. Mediation can take as little as a few weeks or even a few days.

Bergman said, "There is this idea that mediation is only for family matters, but all civil matters are fit to be dealt with through mediation."

Mediation is suitable for collective bargaining between labour unions and management, governmental issues, workplace disputes, contract disputes, shareholders disputes, real estate disputes, and construction disputes among others.

Mediation is generally more cost efficient compared to litigation, particularly since the parties save the costs of preparing and filing legal documents and serving them to the other party, as well as other costs connected with judicial proceedings.

Mediation is confidential. This means that, apart from the parties involved and the mediator, no one else will get to know the facts of the dispute, how the meetings are conducted, or the outcome of the mediation. This is contrary to litigation, where a judgment is always a public document.

Mediation can be initiated on request by the parties, through the execution of a mediation clause in a contract, or during a judicial proceeding, with the agreement of both parties.

Bergman is one of a dozen attorneys comprising BSZE Law who operate on St. Maarten and Curaçao.

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