Top left Erno Lebaga Jr
TSXM – GREAT BAY – Erno Labega Jr. refused to come to court yesterday morning the face charges for his involvement in a fight that took place at the Bada Bing adult entertainment club on February 3, 2011. Labega did not appreciate the security measures the police had in mind for his transport from the Pointe Blanche prison to the courthouse.
“They wanted to blindfold him and shackle him from top to toe,” his attorney Peggy Ann Brandon told the court. “He did not agree with that and I advised him not to come to court.”
On December 5 Labega was in court for the same charges but that session came to an unscheduled end after the defendant went berserk and started cursing the prosecutor and the judge.
This time, Judge Koos van der Ven and prosecutor Tineke Kamps took their time to study one more time video footage from the incident together with the defendant’s attorney. It did not yield any new insights though: the grainy pictures show how Labega’s American girlfriend Dominique stomps angrily out of the club to return moments later with a group of running men who then gave the victim – a man who’d had an argument with the woman over a bar stool – off camera a firm beating that resulted in several facial injuries.
The defendant has consistently claimed that he did not hit anybody and that he had run towards the commotion in the club. While attorney Brandon said that she did not recognize her client from the video footage, prosecutor Kamps stuck to statements by police officers who had studied the footage not once, but maybe twenty times, and they identified the defendant as one of the men that stormed into the club.
“Labega does not deny that he was there,” the prosecutor said. “He even said it was about defending his girlfriend.”
According to the victim, Labega had also encouraged others to continue with the beating by saying “work him, work him.”
Considering all circumstances, the prosecutor concluded that there is enough evidence to sentence the defendant for complicity. Prosecutor Kamps said that the case could have been included in the charges Labega faced in the
-trial. Had there not been a 6-year sentence in that trial, the demand for participating in the fight could have been punished with a conditional sentence. Against the background of Labega’s membership of a criminal organization the prosecutor arrived at a different conclusion. She demanded 2 months imprisonment with deduction of the 24 days he spent in pre-trial detention for this charge.
Attorney Brandon emphasized that all participants in the fight had been drinking quite a lot. “They were all drunk, and the reaction was very impulsive,” she said. “Which active role did my client play? Who did what? To be sentenced for complicity he must have done something.” Brandon said that there is no evidence, other than a claim by the victim, that her client had uttered the words “work him, work him.” The attorney added that her client had never denied he was there, but all he did was “run towards the commotion.”
Brandon expressed regret for what had happened to the victim, but she wondered why her client “who has done the least’ would have to get an unconditional prison sentence while others had been sentenced to conditional jail terms.
Prosecutor Kamps pointed to a Supreme Court ruling that says that people who belong to a group contribute to the actions those groups undertake – including public violence. “The demand against this defendant is also based on his personal circumstances,” Kamps said.
Judge Van der Ven considered that there is sufficient evidence against the defendant for a conviction. Still, the sentence was milder than the prosecutor’s demand: 24 days – equal to the time Labega spent in pretrial detention for the fight.