ATM Skimming suspects released from pretrial detention

POSTED: 09/18/14 1:01 AM

St. Maarten – Judge Koos van de Ven ordered the termination of the pretrial detention of three Romanian men who were arrested on July 12 on Clem Labega Square in front of the Windward Islands Bank on suspicion of skimming automatic teller machines (ATMs). The men will have to return to court on November 13 for their trial.

Robert Arian M. (39), Ianacu Bogdan V. (37) and Cristian M. (40) appeared for a pro forma hearing in the Court in First Instance yesterday. Their respective attorneys, Shaira Bommel, Brenda Brooks and Safira Ibrahim all asked the court to terminate or at least suspend their clients’ pretrial detention, but prosecutor Nanouk Lemmers objected, citing serious concerns.

In the end it came down to the pro forma summons the defendants had received. Judge Koos van de Ven ruled that one part of this summons – that accuses the Romanians of membership of a criminal organization – meets the requirements for a pro forma summons. The second part speaks of fraud of theft with a false key and is not up to the standards the law requires.

The court did not declare the summons void, but ruled that it is for now not possible to establish that the men actually had already skimmed ATMs before their arrest and that there are no serious objections against them as far as membership of the criminal organization is concerned.

Based on this consideration, the court decided to terminate the pretrial detention of the three defendants that started on July 12. “You will return to Pointe Blanche now, but later today you will be released,” the judge told the men.

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