Mos said his office had no choice but to release two suspects that were held at the Pointe Blanche Prison to make room for two of the Gypsy gang suspects while the third suspect who was held for fencing stolen items has been released from pre-trial detention.
Thursday 5th May, the prosecutor's office sent the two suspects of the three recent fatal crimes and a number of violent robberies and rapes up to Pointe Blanche Prison. The judge of instruction ordered that they would have to be incarcerated in the Pointe Blanche prison within 48 hours from yesterday (Wednesday). The judge decided that the third suspect in this case who allegedly fenced the stolen goods from the violent crimes several times, was to be suspended from his pre-trial detention. He was ordered to hand over his passport to prevent him from fleeing from his trial.
The Chief Prosecutor said since Pointe Blanche prison is full, the Public Prosecutor's Office again had to take the decision to send two other suspects home from Pointe Blanche, thus creating space for the two who had to be sent up (Gypsy gang).
The two suspects who had to be released from their pre-trail detention were sent up only recently. They both are suspects (29 and 31) in a burglary case in which they stole a flat screen TV, phones and watches from a private house on March 31st 2011.
Mos said having to send home these suspects is a major setback to the newly installed Police team that investigates home burglaries and which has shown to be very successful. Yet, due to the lack of prison cells, those who were arrested since, had to be sent home after 26 days, the prosecutor's office not being able to comply with the judge's order to have them sent up to Pointe Blanche.
The prosecutor's office only has the authority to send suspects home who still are in pre-trial detention and whose verdicts are not yet irrevocable. Once the judge has given the verdict and this is irrevocable, this prison sentence will have to be executed and cannot be overruled by a prosecutor's decision, Mos said.
Mos said enquires were made by the media as to how they intend to house the gypsy gang suspects now that there is no space at the Pointe Blanche Prison. He said it is beyond doubt that these suspects will have to be kept in detention at all costs. Given the judge's consent, that is what is going to happen.
Mos said counting from March 1st 2011, the prosecutor's office had to send 19 suspects home due to lack of prison cells at the Pointe Blanche detention centre.
Awaiting renovation of the Pointe Blanche detention centre and the possible extension of prison facilities elsewhere on the island, the public prosecutor's office submitted plans to the Minister of Justice back in February to alleviate the problems of having to send pretrial detainees home because of lack of prison cells. These plans in brief consist of the possibility to order that the new police cells in the police station in Philipsburg be considered a place where pre-trial detention can be executed (which now is forbidden by law, since those cells do not have that formal status) and the possibility to grant detainees, who have been irrevocably convicted and who are closest to their early release date, grace for the rest of their term, but only when and if their place is needed to lock-up new pre-trail detainees. In these plans, serious crime convicts or repeated criminals are to be excluded from this possibility of grace.
The Minister of Justice has not yet decided on these plans. Awaiting his decision, the prosecutor's office will be forced to send pre-trial detainees home due to lack of prison cells.