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Prisoner involved in fight transferred to Holland

PHILIPSBURG--A prisoner who was badly injured during a brawl at the Pointe Blanche prison in September reportedly was transferred to The Netherlands under tight security on Sunday.

Although police and Justice officials were tight-lipped about the prisoner's identity, The Daily Herald understands it was Carlos Richardson, who is currently serving thirty years. He sustained severe injuries, when he was attacked with a machete in an incident that involved Urvin Laurence Wawoe (33), known as "Nuto."

Nuto is said to be a member of the Curaçao gang "No Limit Soldiers," a member of which was held responsible for the murder of politician Helmin Wiels in Curaçao. Wawoe is serving an eight-year sentence in St. Maarten for cocaine and firearm possession, money-laundering and being involved in a criminal organisation.

Authorities clearly were not taking any chances with Richardson's safety. A number of Marechaussees were seen getting on the Sunday KLM flight, while there was a significant police presence outside the plane.

Richardson had been moved from St. Maarten Medical Center (SMMC) to "another place" once he had recovered sufficiently. Prison Director Edward Rohan had confirmed at the time that the inmate had been moved from SMMC and taken to a place where his safety was secured. Rohan declined to specify whether the other location referred to was the prison.

"He has been moved from the hospital. He is not critical anymore, so the prison doctor and nurse will continue his care," Rohan said at the time. "We have found another place for him in the meantime."

Two firearms were found in the prison after the fight, leading to cries amongst prison guards about concerns for their safety and security. Justice Minister Dennis Richardson subsequently announced a number of strict measures that will be introduced at the facility to address the security breaches that resulted in the guns being smuggled into the prison.

Richardson is serving time for two murders, one attempted murder and one case of attempted manslaughter as the hit-man in connection with the notorious Vesuvius case.

Goldfinger robbers nearly made off with 115 watches

MARIGOT--More details of the dramatic Goldfinger jewellery store robbery on October 22 on Rue de la République have emerged in a press release issued by the Gendarmerie on Saturday.

The first part of the release recounts the highly-dangerous moments when the first patrol of four Gendarmes confronted the three robbers still inside Goldfinger store. Two of the Gendarmes entered through the security doors and were fired at three times by the robbers, but miraculously were not hit. Instead, a bullet shattered one of the glass security doors, the broken glass cutting the faces of two Gendarmes on the outside of the store.

As more patrols began to arrive, the robbers exited with the manager as hostage and continued firing at Gendarmes, as they ran in the direction of Fort Louis Marina with a bag of watches. They attempted to steal a car to escape in the direction of Galis Bay, but found their path blocked by more Gendarmes.

They abandoned the car, the hostage and the bag of watches. There is more exchange of fire at Yacht Club Restaurant. Two of the robbers gave themselves up, and the third escaped on foot.

In all, 14 shots were fired, nine on the part of the robbers and five by Gendarmes.

Investigators determined the robbers were Venezuelans, who arrived from Caracas separately on the island, the two, who were arrested, arrived on October 17 at Princess Juliana Airport and the third one on October 6.

The three robbers used two types of guns; one was a semi-automatic 40 calibre "Baby Desert Eagle" which was fired at the Gendarmes. The weapon was seized and magazine found to be empty. The other weapon was a chrome revolver used by the robber who escaped. This was not used against Gendarmes. It was also determined that at the time of their arrest they had run out of bullets.

The bag of loot was found to contain 115 luxury-type watches, each individually worth from 10,000 to 30,000 euros.

Prosecutors from both sides of the island cooperated immediately during the emergency placing the respective detective departments on high alert, and also to investigate the hotel (not mentioned) where the robbers had stayed.

The two captured suspects were transferred to Guadeloupe on October 24 to await trial.

The investigation is now under the supervision of a Judge of Instruction from Pointe-a-Pitre, Guadeloupe.

Commandant Paul Betaille saluted the professionalism and "sang-froid" of the Gendarmes caught in a difficult and dangerous situation.

Marchers call for ‘respect’ and end to Dutch ‘insult’

page6f135PHILIPSBURG--"We didn't vote for Bosman or Van Raak" and "Enough is enough. This is our country" were some of the messages on the placards carried by an estimated 200 marchers who took to the street Sunday afternoon to express their discontent with the Kingdom Council of Ministers' instruction to Governor Eugene Holiday to carry out what has been deemed an invasive, boundless screening into the lives of minister candidates.

The march started off from the ring road with the sizable group heading down W.J.A. Nisbeth Road to Clem Labega Square in front the Government Administration Building. Marchers answered the call of "What do we want?" with "Respect!" and an end to Dutch insults.

United People's (UP) party deputy leader Member of Parliament Franklin Meyers deemed the instruction by the Dutch Government as "wrong."

Called on by march organisers People United for Democracy to speak to the marchers, Meyers said, "We are not taking the insult from [Dutch MPs – Ed.] Bosman and Van Raak no more." He called on the two Dutch MPs, who are very vocal about St. Maarten affairs, to "pass legislation to help feed my people and to alleviate my people from poverty."

The instruction only serves to have the government in "a stalemate" and to stop government from working, Meyers said, adding a call to politicians in The Hague to impose the same instruction on themselves as they have for St. Maarten. "Let it be throughout the kingdom."

Meyers commended the marchers for their "courage" to take to the street in spite of the naysayers who were against the march. He pointed out that visionaries like the late Nelson Mandela and the late Dr. Martin King Jr. "were ostracised by their people" for standing up.

"We will continue to march until St. Maarten is liberated and is in control in her own destiny," Meyers said.

MP Dr. Lloyd Richardson (UP) said this kind of protest action was "something St. Maarten has to grow accustomed to," as St. Maarteners are not wont to display their discontent publicly.

The march was about St. Maarten people "not wanting to give up the rights we got four years ago" with the breakup of the Netherlands Antilles, he said. "All we are asking for is fairness to do what we have to do. ... The government can't do its work. ... We demand an opportunity to do so for the country," he said.

Richardson, like Meyers, said the resistance would continue against the actions of the Dutch "no matter how long it takes."

March organiser Elton Jones commended marchers for "the courage to come out for something you believe in. ... We are marching for the rights we lost since the days of the Netherlands Antilles."

The screening of minister candidates has worked "beautifully" the last three times it was used in the past four years. Now it appears the Dutch believe "they should handpick who should sit in the hall of power. We the people say no. ... We will not accept dictates from Europe any longer."

Fellow organiser Etienne "Tochi" Meyers chided the people who had spoken out against the march, saying their condemnation was an attack on the children of the country whose future was being safeguarded. St. Maarten's case against the instruction will be put before "a man from the UN" today, Monday, according to him.

Ed Gumbs, another organiser, said he "will never accept The Hague telling me who will govern me. We elect our government." He called the instruction an insult to the governor.

Gumbs called for an integrity investigation into Dutch Kingdom Affairs Minister Ronald Plasterk to establish the amount of money he might have received for posing in a photo with Bada Bing bribery case suspect Jaap van den Heuvel aboard a plane when he had refused to take a photo with now-former MP Patrick Illidge because he is a suspect in the same case.

Prior to the march setting off from the ring road down W.J.A. Nisbeth Road, United People's (UP) party leader Member of Parliament Theo Heyliger, who took part in the march, told the press he supported the march and the efforts of the organisers. The marchers were "pushing for the freedom of St. Maarten" and for the Dutch Government to "respect democracy" and St. Maarten's Constitution.

Heyliger said the march was not about him, but about St. Maarten. The situation in St. Maarten is one where the Dutch Government clearly showed it had no problem with the National Alliance/Democratic Party/United St. Maarten Party coalition formed after elections, but are now imposing an instruction because the UP had taken up the governmental lead with a coalition supported by two-thirds of Parliament, he said. This shows that "The Hague has certain preferences."

The instruction for the invasive screening comes without the minister candidates being known and even after the incumbent government and the present coalition partners have indicated they are committed to executing the recommendations outlined in the PricewaterhouseCoopers integrity report, Heyliger said.

As formateur of the new government, Heyliger said he hoped to round off the process soon and submit the list of minister candidates to Governor Holiday.

UP Parliamentarian Tamara Leonard also was among the marchers.

Minister praises ‘quick’ recovery efforts on visit

MARIGOT--French Minister of Overseas Territories George Pau-Langevin has praised the "very quick" efforts of the territory to get back on its feet following the passing of Hurricane Gonzalo, on her visit to St. Martin and St. Barths on Sunday.

She especially thanked law enforcement, SNSM sea rescue, EDF and all service providers for working flat out to assist the population in getting back to normal daily routines.

"As the tourist season is starting shortly, it was important for us to see areas like Orient Beach that depend on tourism," she said before departing for St. Barths. "Repairs have been done very quickly and I hope we start the season in the best possible conditions. I am satisfied to know there are people here who are conscientious and know what to do in the best interest of the territory."

The Minister arrived from Guadeloupe on an Air Antilles flight at 9:00am in Grand Case to be met by Préfet Philippe Chopin, President of the Collectivité Aline Hanson, Senator Guillaume Arnell and MP Daniel Gibbs.

She was already at the end of a pre-scheduled visit to Guadeloupe and the Dominican Republic and made the diversion to inspect the hurricane damage on both St. Martin and St. Barths.

With no flexibility in the tight schedule, she was whisked rapidly to one location after another in a convoy of vehicles, visiting Orient Beach, Grand Case, Friars Bay, the Gendarmerie in La Savane, the Lycée and SNSM, before meeting privately with Aline Hanson and attending a closed working meeting with elected officials and socio-professionals; all undertaken in four hours.

Her first stop was at Orient Beach where she visited "Orange Fever" before passing down the main boulevard of Grand Case, stopping two or three times to inspect damages. Then it was on to Friar's Bay to meet the restaurant proprietors there.

At the Gendarmerie she met some of the courageous Gendarmes, who were involved in thwarting the recent Goldfinger robbery, thanking them for their unwavering sense of duty.

The Minister was welcomed at the Lycée by Assistant Principal Frantz Gumbs and Mona Gob, who conducted a short tour of the establishment to point out the damages.

Gumbs noted the main damage was water getting into computer classrooms, where computers had to be dried out. Some roofs were damaged and one in an internal passage way blew off completely.

"It's not so bad that we have to close indefinitely, but there is a lot of cleaning work to be done," he said. "Obviously we are still closed now for the vacation period, but will re-open on November 3."

Her last visit was with the volunteers of SNSM sea rescue at the cemetery roundabout where she could see first-hand how the SNSM 129 lifeboat ended up on the rocks at Beach Plaza Hotel. Vice-President of SNSM Jean-Claude van Rymenant said he is hoping the lifeboat will be lifted out by crane next week, adding that if the damage is reparable it will still be preferable to keep the vessel. The Dutch-side sea rescue is currently covering the French-side zones

The Government of France has not yet officially declared St. Martin a natural disaster zone to obtain re-building funds, as this is dependent of an evaluation of the hurricane damage by the Collectivité and this is currently in process. The report will then be studied by a commission at the Overseas Ministry in France to determine if aid is applicable.

Senator Arnell said he was optimistic that there will be enough indications to warrant receiving assistance from France.

"On the other hand, we asked to take responsibilities with more autonomy and that means we should be more prepared in our disaster awareness programmes, and with our building codes, so that we can be more self-sufficient," he said. "France hasn't got all the finances internally to be fair to everyone, when it comes to disasters at the national level or overseas level."

President Hanson described the Minister's response as "very reactive." Hanson estimated damages to the Collectivité infrastructure to be initially 3 million euros, and to water and drainage network 1.8 million euros.

"The figures are not finalised yet; we are continually evaluating," she added.

President of the Chamber of Commerce Jean Arnell said the Chamber is evaluating the economic impact of the hurricane in a first phase and in a second phase looking at the gross income of businesses and labour market for the last quarter of 2014 compared to 2013.

"France needs to act with the Collectivité to reduce the cost of labour in St. Martin to make the economy more competitive, as well as implementing statistics to ensure we can plan properly for the future," he said. "As for the Minister's visit, it's always good to let a Minister know of the country's ills. I felt she was genuinely concerned and I think France will help us rebuild as they did in 1995. But beyond the damage, the question is how do we build a better St. Martin? That's critically important. It's not estimating cost of damages, but estimating cost of rebuilding in a sustainable manner."

Ban lifted, water quality good for swimming on French side

MARIGOT--Swimming and water sports activities can now resume at French-side beaches after the Collectivité lifted the ban over the weekend, following tests on water quality done by Agence Régional de la Santé (ARS).

The order prohibiting swimming was taken as a precaution in the interest of public health in the wake of Hurricane Gonzalo. Water quality can be polluted by a run-off of soil from hillsides caused by heavy rain, as well as debris, sewage and the opening of ponds to reduce water levels.

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