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Photo The Daily Herald

TDH – MARIGOT–The Go-Karting building in La Savane, Grand Case, located next to Gess Gas Station, was completely destroyed by fire on Monday morning, and one fire fighter was hospitalized after sustaining second degree burns.

The building was not occupied at the time and no other injuries were reported.

The two-level, 400 square-metre building that overlooks the racing circuit, caught fire at 11:30am. The Fire Brigade (pompiers) responded with three trucks and the fire was finally extinguished by 2:00pm, according to a spokesman. Some cars parked close to the building were also damaged by the heat and smoke.

The distraught owner of Go-Karting Stéphane, said everything was completely destroyed, including the thirty-five Go-Karts and the unique racing driver memorabilia in showcases on the first floor.

“I have absolutely no idea how the fire started, but it looks like it originated on the first floor,” he said. “Fortunately, nobody was in the building, because we were not open for business yet.”

Gendarmerie’s Capitaine Sylvain Jouault said an investigation has been opened to establish the cause of the fire, whether accidental or by criminal intent.

The blaze was perilously close to the adjacent Gess Gas Station, however, it has been closed for some time and probably gasoline storage and other flammable materials had already been removed.

Go-Karting opened for business four years ago and proved to be a popular leisure activity. The condition of the fire fighter was not known by press time.


Court sentence Suspects to 14 years for drug related murder



One of the suspect as he enter the court room – Stevenson Pinder – TSXM

TSXM – GREAT BAY – Stevenson Pinder underwent his sentencing for the Gaston Gumbs murder yesterday with visible and increasing frustration. “This is not right,” he said after the verdict. Before he left the courtroom, he turned to Judge Mr. Tamara Tijhuis and prosecutor Mr. Tineke Kamps, saying, “You know I did not do this.” The court had a different opinion and sentenced Pinder, 39, and his fugitive co-defendant Sobiesky Parrondo, 25, both to 14 years of imprisonment for the November 10, 2012 drugs-related murder. The sentence is identical to the prosecutor Mr. Gonda van der Wulp’s demand at the trial on July 4.

Pinder and Parrondo met with Gumbs, a 50-year old French Quarter resident near the cigar lounge in Sucker Garden on the evening of November 10 of last year to seal a 25-kilo cocaine deal. The deal went sour and Gumbs ended up with two bullets in his head, after which his killers set the body on fire.

The court ruling shows that the forensic department identified the badly burned body from fingerprints. Gumbs’ “dactyloscopic profile” appears in the forensic department’s databank, indicating that the victim has had brushes with the law, though no details about his criminal past surfaced in the court ruling.

Parrondo did not appear in court for the trial on July 4; he escaped from detention at the police station on June 23 and he has disappeared without a trace.

The court based its evidence for the conviction on the numerous phone contacts between the two defendants, a cousin of Pinder and the victim on the day of the murder. Between a quarter past ten in the morning and shortly after seven thirty in the evening investigators found 32 phone contacts – lasting from 6 to 68 seconds. The last contact between Gumbs, nicknamed Brasi, and Pinder was recorded at 7.33 p.m.

A man nicknamed Pala – a cousin of Pinder – said that Gumbs told him he wanted to buy 25 kilos of “material.”

“Gumbs assumed I was able to deliver 25 kilos of cocaine,” Pinder confirmed to investigators.

The court ruling does not answer the question why the deal went sour, but it appears that Gumbs come to the meeting near the Cigar Lounge empty-handed. His son Maradona later told police that he had searched his father’s house when he did not return from the appointment and that he had found a bag stuffed with a large amount of money. According to Sobiesky Parrondo’s attorney Mr. Geert Hatzmann, he later gave that bag to three men who had come to the house.

The court concluded that the defendants and the victim had had numerous contacts on the day of the murder and that they had spoken about a drugs deal. Telecom-data pinpoint the location of the victim and the two murder-suspects near the cigar lounge around the time Gumbs was murdered. Video-footage from security-cameras supports this evidence. The victim’s son Maradona confirmed to investigators that Pinder had borrowed his father’s car, that he had driven his father to Sucker Garden and that his father later told him Pinder was on his way from the Lowlands.

The defendants filled a water bottle with gas at the DP-station in Dutch Quarter and they bought a lighter and cigarettes while none of them smokes.

The court ruled that the killing is premeditated, because Pinder and Parrondo took a firearm along to their meeting and because the victim was shot in the back of his head.

After the murder, the killers set the victim’s body on fire. They took his car to Galisbay on the French side and set the vehicle on fire in the middle of the night.

IS ST MAARTEN ON THE LINE – Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte says “If you want out, give me a call”


GREAT BAY – Telegraaf-journalist Ruud Mikkers, who toured the Antilles last week with Prime Minister Mark Rutte and a trade mission caused quite a stir in the Netherlands on Saturday with a front-page story under the ominous headline “Antilles on the line” (Antillen op de wip) that suggested that as far as Rutte is concerned the autonomous countries and the BES-islands could severe their ties with the Netherlands immediately if they wanted to.

Mikkers reported that Rutte made the remark “behind the scenes” and that island-politicians had looked at him rather surprised when they heard his opinion. “If you call me tomorrow that you want out, we will immediately take care of it,” the Dutch Prime Minister was quoted as saying.

The story triggered more than 300 reactions on the online edition of the newspaper; quite some readers pointed out that it is up to the islands to take a decision about their status within or outside the Kingdom. Others cheered the statement and demanded that the Netherlands “stops the development aid” and that if the countries want to be independent they have to stand on their own feet. In reality, Rutte said already at a press conference on Wednesday, that the book on debt relief (perceived as development aid in the Netherlands) is closed.

Tom-Jan Meeus brought Rutte’s statement with the correct nuance. “Prime Minister Rutte told the islands in Caribbean Netherlands this week behind the scenes that if they wish to do this, they are able to leave the Kingdom at any moment: “they looked at me with surprise. I said: if you want out, and a majority of your population supports that, then it is possible. Then you give me a call and we arrange it.”

On Wednesday, Rutte said at a press conference in Philipsburg that he does not want to talk about constitutional reform anymore. Meeus quoted him as saying: “I said in private: if we ever talk about policy, I’ll only do it if you want to get out of the Kingdom.”

The Dutch daily Trouw picked up the story and quoted a reaction from D66-leader Alexander Pechtold, who once told this newspaper that St. Maarten is “not on the radar” of politicians in The Hague. Pechtold told the NOS that Rutte’s statement is “for a historian improper, and for a prime minister not very diplomatic.” According to the D66-leader, Rutte’s words were meant for the home front “because he knows people like to hear this.”

The Netherlands has a history of 400 years with the islands and the prime minister has a duty to put his thoughts carefully into words ad something like this about Limburg, all hell would have broken loose.”

NRC Handelsblad reported that Rutte saved his harshest criticism for St. Maarten where he “made agreements about a thorough investigation into the government’s integrity.” The story fails to report that Rutte appreciated the fact that Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams had already taken the initiative to contact anti-corruption Watchdog Transparency International for a national integrity assessment.

Tom-Jan Meeus furthermore writes that the minister of justice had to step down “because he turned out to be the manager of several brothels.” It also appeared, Meeus wrote, that the island’s parliamentarians have a monthly salary of €9,000 ($10,800), “the highest in the Kingdom.” According to Meeus Rutte recommended that the parliament reopen the debate about this issue. However, at Wednesday’s press conference, Rutte emphasized that it was not up to him to comment on the salaries. Today already revealed the salaries shortly after the territory obtained country status in October 2010.

Female American commits suicide on Carnival Dream that visited St Maarten

carnival-dream-TSXM – GREAT BAY- A suicide aboard the Carnival Dream leaves one to ponder why so many people choose this cruise line to end their lives under tragic circumstances when they were supposed to be having a good time.

According to the police report, it was at approximately 10.00 a.m, the Central Police Dispatch sent a police patrol, Detectives and the Forensic Department, to investigate a case of suicide, which occurred in one of the cabins on board of the Carnival Dream Cruise Ship, which was docked at the A.C. Wathey Cruise Facility.

On board, the detectives spoke to the ships authorities and the ships doctor. The captain of the ship stated that shortly after leaving the port of Sint Thomas on Tuesday with destination Sint Maarten he was informed about the incident.

The report further stated that the incident had taken place in one of the cabins on deck # 2 of the ship and the victim was a female U.S. citizen by the name of Christina Michelle Mullin age 40. Ironically, Mullin was not alone on the cruise; she was accompanied by other family members.

However, it was while her family members were out of the cabin that she took her own life by hanging herself. Dr. Mercuur, who was invited on board the ship examined the body and confirmed that the cause of death was by hanging.

The reason that prompted Mullin to take her own life remains unclear and now it’s up to the U.S. authorities to carry out the necessary investigations once the ship has docked at the nearest U.S. port.

Tornado Hits Antigua as hurricane Chantal passes


This waterspout over the sea close to Jumby Bay Resort was one of several sighted by residents as Tropical Storm Chantal passed south of Antigua & Barbuda yesterday afternoon. (Photo by Stephen Mendes)

JOHN’S, Antigua – Residents made several reports of tornadoes and waterspouts touching down on the island, as Tropical Storm Chantal passed to the south of Antigua yesterday afternoon.
OBSERVER media newsroom received eyewitness reports of tornadoes forming in the Lightfoot community and causing damage to both the Camp Blizzard army base and the Jumby Bay Resort on offshore Long Island.
Major Randolph Best, commanding officer with responsibility for disaster management at the Antigua & Barbuda Defence Force, recalled how he saw a tornado rummage through the Camp Blizzard base.
“I was getting ready to speak with the troops, having monitored what was going on with the passage of the storm,” he said.
“There was a sudden gust of wind and I happened to look outside the window and saw a tornado passing no more than 15 feet from the building I was in.”
Major Best said the twister tore up quite a few trees and displaced several tanks filled water.
“Several windows were broken, literally exploded,” he said.
“Vehicles were displaced and got damaged. Coconut trees were blown over; several trees snapped. We had several buildings that the roof was damaged.” At the time of speaking to OBSERVER the major said there were no reports of loss of life or injury, so far, but that the army was still conducting its assessment.
Meantime, at Jumby Bay Resort, one worker said he was inside the building when a twister passed.
When contacted about 5 pm Tuesday, the Office of Meteorological Services was asking residents to avoid the Jabberwock Beach area to the north of the island, where a water spout/tornado had reportedly formed.
Forecaster Dale Destin confirmed that the tornadoes were a result of Tropical Storm Chantal.
Chantal, which had formed in the Atlantic Ocean, broke through the Caribbean island chain some time Tuesday and rapidly moved away from the Leeward Islands at 26 miles per hour.
The storm, currently located in the Caribbean Sea, is expected to become a hurricane and make landfall at The .