Marigot:--- The Palais de Justice in Marigot was packed on Thursday morning as several persons from within the community and workers from the Collectivity of St. Martin, including fourth Vice President Wendell Cocks showed up at the Court House to witness the criminal proceedings brought against third Vice President Guillaume Arnell, former head of Urbanism Josi Carti, and the owner of Sindextour Norbert Luftman. Thursday's criminal hearing was placed on the docket after an investigation into the issuance of the AOT that the Collectivity of Saint Martin issued to the owner of Sindextour Norbert Luftman while denying the request that was submitted by the owner of Bikini Beach Elisa Cohen and Phillipe Just of Kontiki Beach. Cohen and Just filed a complaint against the Collectivity when they learned that the COM had issued an Autorisation d'Occupation Temporaire (AOT) to Norbert Luftman even though he submitted his request a month and days after Cohen and Just.
Cohen and Just are contesting what they view as the illegal issuing of an AOT renewal to Luftman's company Sindextour for the parcel AW33 by the COM on April 17, 2012 while their own AOT applications that were submitted in February 2012 were ignored and refused without explanation.
Several members of the Arnell family were in court giving support to third Vice President Guilaume Arnell who was neatly dressed in a white shirt and black pants. The second suspect Josi Carti who no longer works for the Collectivity was sporting in a brown tee shirt and a blue jeans pants. The businessman Norbert Luftman did not appear in court on Thursday even though he was summoned to appear for the hearing.
Thursday's proceedings were short but hot. The lawyer who represented third Vice President Guillaume Arnell asked for a postponement because his lawyer who is from France was unable to appear on Thursday. Attorney at Law Herbert Jabot represented Arnell in the absence of his lawyer Maitre Jean-Yves Le Borgne.
Third Vice President Guillaume Arnell addressed the court asking the judge to lift the judicial control that has been imposed on him. Arnell told the court that he is an elected official and an upstanding citizen who has to travel on behalf of his work and other family related matters. Arnell tried to convince the judge that he is not a person that poses any risk and therefore he sees no need for him to be restricted. Besides that, he told the court that the judicial control limits the obligations he has as the third vice president of the Collectivity. Arnell further stated that it is impossible for him to carry out his duties as an elected official.
The Prosecutor Flavien Noailles insisted that the judicial control be maintained to show good functioning of the judicial system. Noailles also insisted that the three parties must not communicate with each other.
The lawyer that is representing the victims (civil parties) Elisa Cohen and Philippe Just, Stephen Montravers argued against the request of Arnell and Carti claiming that these persons will harass his clients. Montravers also told the court that on February 14th when the court lifted part of the judicial control for Norbert Luftman the civil parties were not given a chance to contest Luftman's request. Montravers told the court that his clients have been harassed by Luftman and his employees ever since the Collectivity of St. Martin issued the AOT to him for AW33 on Orient Bay. On February 14th, 2013 the court dropped the 300,000 Euros the Gendarmes placed as bond to 10,000 Euros while the Court also returned Luftman's passport which was also confiscated by the Gendarmes for medical reasons.
After a brief recess the court decided to lift part of the judicial control, meaning that Arnell and Carti do not have to go every two weeks to the Gendarmerie, and they can now travel if need be. However, Arnell, Carti, and Luftman cannot make contact with each other, neither can they contact or go to the civil parties place of business located on Orient Beach. The President of the Court also precised in his ruling that September 19th, 2012 will be reserved only for the handling of the AOT case since a number of witnesses has to be heard on the day of the trial.
Another twist to the AOT saga and the Orient Beach affair which has been making headlines is that Norbert Luftman filed a criminal lawsuit against Attorney at Law Stephen Montravers who also appeared in court on Thursday. The judge postponed the case of Luftman against Montravers to November 14th, 2013, which is after the criminal hearing now scheduled for September 19th, 2013.