~Are there class justice in deciding who keeps stolen cars~-
MARIGOT:--- The owner of Nono Car rental Boudia Noureddine, broke his silence on Tuesday when he spoke to SMN News in an exclusive interview regarding one of his brand new vehicles that were stolen in March 2020.
Noureddine said he purchased a new Kia Rio in December 2019 to add to his car fleet, the businessman explained that he rented the vehicle to someone on the French side in March 2020 and while the vehicle was in that person's possession the vehicle was reported stolen. The car rental owner said that in October 2020, a detective from KPSM (Dutch Police) contacted the person who rented the vehicle from him because that person's name is also on the report made at the Gendarmerie and Philipsburg Police Station. He said when the detectives contacted the person, she immediately contacted him and gave him the name of the detectives whom he contacted. Noureddine said the detective asked him where his vehicle was insured and asked him if the insurance company paid him out for the stolen vehicle. He said that informed the detective that he was not paid by the insurance and he provided the detective with all information relating to his stolen vehicle and the insurance company. He said shortly after that the detective contacted him and informed him the prosecutor that is handling the case decided not to return his vehicle because the person from whom the vehicle was taken bought the vehicle for $5,000.00 via the internet.
Noureddine said when the detective informed him that Prosecutor Esmehan Ahbata made the decision not to return his vehicle, he said the detective also provided the phone number where he could reach the prosecutor but whenever he called he could not make contact with the prosecutor. The businessman further explained that he has since hired the services of a lawyer on the Dutch side of the island who already dispatched a letter to the prosecutor’s office and provided documents relating to his stolen vehicle and registered company on French St. Martin.
“I want to know if someone bought a vehicle that his just over 3 months old for $5,000.00 if that alone does not tell the prosecutor that the vehicle is stolen. Also, I need to know how did the person who purchased the vehicle obtained an inspection card and a new license plate on the Dutch side of the island and where did they get documents to obtain the inspection card and license plate."
Based on an agreement between the French and Dutch side persons who purchased a French registered vehicle must hand over the original Carte Grise to the Inspection Center on the Dutch side before that vehicle can pass the inspection and be registered on the Dutch side. Questions are now being asked as to what role is the Inspection Center on St. Maarten playing with the stolen vehicle racket because it is reported that these carte grises that should be surrendered to them are not being returned to the French side administration. Hopefully, the National Detectives will broaden their scope of the investigation to see how is it possible to obtain inspection cards without the relevant documents.
Noureddine said the person who police stopped with the vehicle must know who sold them the car even if they purchased it on the internet. He said whoever the prosecutor is protecting cannot come over to the French side because the vehicle has been reported as stolen on St. Martin. Furthermore, he explained that while car thieves are busy tampering with VIN numbers, this cannot happen with his vehicle because if they do the vehicle will not start. The businessman said the person also will never be able to purchase parts for the vehicle because the dealer also has the vehicle registered as stolen.
It should be noted that two weeks ago a resident on St. Maarten who also purchased a Kia Picanto that is allegedly stolen was informed by police that the prosecutor’s office decided not to return his vehicle back to him because he spoke to SMN News and documents relating to his vehicle were published. Besides the documents, the victim also alleged that that police are heavily involved in the stolen vehicle racket taking place on both sides of the island. Because of the publication of several articles where victims of stolen vehicles came forward the Minister of Justice called on the Attorney General to conduct an indebt investigation.
On November 29th, 2020 Minister of Justice Anna Richardson sent out a press release where it clearly stated that the Prosecutor’s Office conducted a preliminary investigation and concluded that the allegations made against ‘KPSM police officers lacked a factual basis. However, the Attorney General has decided to allow an investigation to take place by the national detectives, therefore victims are asked to contact the national detectives with all information they may have regarding stolen vehicles and police involvement.
Based on the information divulged in the interview with the owner of Nono Car Rental it is clear that there seems to be some kind of class justice because in some cases persons who purchased alleged stolen vehicles are allowed to keep the vehicle while others are not and most of all sellers of these stolen vehicles are not prosecuted.