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Gendarmerie stands guard as burglary gang appears in court

page1a126MARIGOT--The Gendarmerie flexed its muscles as a precaution against any trouble as six burglary suspects, all adults ages nineteen to 25, appeared together in court on Wednesday to hear charges against them for a series of burglaries committed from May to July this year.

Five of the suspects implicated in the burglaries were arrested on Monday along with a sixth individual who was not involved in the burglaries, but was known to the other five and arrested for weapons possession.

Capitaine Emmanuel Maignan said the robust Gendarmerie presence outside and inside the courthouse was due to the number of supporters and friends of the suspects who had gathered at the café opposite the courthouse an hour before the court appearance and had been seeking information since Monday on why the arrests had been made.

Rue Palais de Justice was closed and occupied by Gendarmerie vehicles while the hearing was in progress inside the courthouse. Some 15 Gendarmes stood guard as Judge Gérard Egron-Reverseau read out the charges for each suspect.

The defendants had no lawyers representing them on Wednesday due to the national strike in France. However, they were assured of legal representation in the forthcoming trial.

The purpose of the hearing was for the court to decide what suspects should be transferred to Guadeloupe and who could remain in St. Martin pending the trial.

Three of the suspects were transferred immediately to Guadeloupe to be held in detention until the trial date of December 15, when they will know their fate. The others were allowed to remain in St. Martin until the trial date in Guadeloupe, but must report to the Gendarmerie once a week, are not allowed to have contact with each other and are not allowed to go to the Dutch side without permission from the court.

The spate of burglaries began on May 10 at a business in Concordia, where a car and a safe containing 65,000 euros were stolen. Victims included Caraïbes Plus, a driving school, a Change Point and Immodom.

Capitaine Maignan said weapons had not been used in the robberies, but a Glock pistol and a Smith and Wesson handgun had been found in the homes of two suspects who were arrested.

Aside from some cheers of support outside the courthouse, there was no trouble as the three suspects to be transferred were placed in Gendarmerie vehicles, after which the crowd dispersed.

Maignan said diligent detective work and DNA evidence had led to a successful conclusion of this investigation.

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