Philipsburg/Guyana:--- Five of the seven suspects that were arrested on March 28th as suspects of a crime ring that were selling false Guyanese passports, false St. Maarten residency papers and identification cards have been deported to Guyana. Three of the suspects were deported weeks after they were arrested but the two main suspects identified as Bibi Yasmin Hussain and Katip Kholadin were deported on Saturday May 7th and they were subsequently arrested in Guyana when they arrived there. Two of the seven suspects that were arrested were released since they were in possession of valid working papers for St. Maarten. The two suspects that left St. Maarten on Saturday had to request travel documents from authorities in Guyana so that they could have travelled back home. Hussain told authorities on St. Maarten that she had lost her passport while Kholadin could not use the false document he was in possession of when arrested.
Hussain and her two sons were arrested on March 28th after police arrested and interrogated her third son who was caught with a false St. Maarten's identification card and residency papers. The suspect Katip Kholadin was also in possession of a valid Guyanese passport that was issued with a deceased man's birth certificate. While the passport bore the photograph of Katip Kholadin, the information such as name and date of birth belonged to a deceased person, whose name was Anthony Jamesie. Police on St. Maarten also released the $34,700 they found during the house search on St. Maarten. According to information provided to SMN News, one of Hussain's son's who was working as a bartender claimed the money belonged to him since he did not have a bank account.
SMN News learnt that police on St. Maarten bungled the investigation, thus giving lawyers who represented the suspects the upper-hand while the suspects were in pre-trial detention. Police say they did not have enough evidence to prosecute the suspects, therefore, they felt it was a best to deport them to Guyana where the crime of falsifying documents was committed.
Guyana's Crime Chief Seelall Persaud said he is aware of the case where several Guyanese nationals were arrested with falsified documents but one of the setbacks authorities in Guyana are facing is the lack of cooperation from St. Maarten's authorities. Persaud said the suspects were arrested some weeks ago in St. Maarten and up to last week he did not receive the documents that were confiscated by the authorities on St. Maarten. Photocopies of the fake Guyanese passports were submitted to Guyana's Consulate in Antigua to verify if the travel documents were authentic or not. However, Persaud said they are not able to work with photocopies of falsified documents to prosecute suspects.
Persaud said he was out of the country last week and he is not able to say whether or not the Commissioner of Police received those documents during his absence. The crime chief said that suspects can only be held for a maximum of 72 hours in Guyana .
Guyana's Crime Chief said that an investigation will be launched to determine how Katip Kholadin managed to get someone to authenticate his photograph which allowed him to apply for a Guyana Passport with someone else's birth certificate.
In meantime, St. Maarten's Chief Prosecutor Hans Mos said that St Maarten and Guyana does not have a working treaty and if Guyana's Justice System (Crime Chief or Commissioner of Police) wants information from St. Maarten they can always make an official request for the evidence (documents that were confiscated) or information which will be given to Guyana's authorities even though there is no treaty. Mos said St. Maarten just cannot send information to another country if it is not requested and those requesting the information also have to state what they intend to do with the information they are requesting. Documents and evidence that were seized have to pass through a certain chain of command when it is used in the criminal justice system Mos said.
It should be noted that while there are over 4000 Guyanese nationals residing on St. Maarten, Guyana still does not have an appointed representative on the island to represent Guyanese. Therefore, prosecuting suspects with falsified documents seems almost impossible.