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Brazilian wholesalers commit to American Airlines joint promotion

Page1A220BRAZIL--Four major Brazilian wholesalers (travel agent firms and tourism-related companies) are now on board to strengthen promotions between St. Maarten and Brazil with American Airlines.

The wholesalers will assist in driving some of the Brazilian airlift to St. Maarten via Miami on American Airlines. If Commissioner of Tourism Frans Richardson is successful in securing a twice-weekly year-round flight from GOL airlines today, the American Airlines deal will complement that service.

Wholesalers MMP Gapnet, Master Turismo, Monark and Nascimento have also guaranteed their services in St. Maarten’s efforts to secure the GOL flight. Their cooperation in promoting the destination is vital to Richardson and Tourism Bureau Head Regina Labega, who can now meet with GOL with significant support from the Brazilian tourism market already secured.

Richardson said he had met with American Airlines Director of Sales in São Paulo, Brazil, Jose Roberto Trinca and they had agreed to the joint promotions for the Brazil-Miami-St. Maarten flight. Details of the joint promotions will be released at a later date, he said.

“This just gives us additional options as we try to expand our presence in the South American market. We already have a long-standing relationship with American Airlines; this is a win-win for St. Maarten and the airline,” Richardson said.

He added that he remained confident going into today’s meeting with GOL executives, who have expressed that they will be seeking assistance from St. Maarten in aggressively marketing the flight to ensure its success.

“Our combined efforts with these wholesalers, along with South America’s largest wholesaler CVC and our representative Ricardo Ramon, are a clear indication of our commitment to make any potential agreement work. Like I’ve said before, we recognise the importance of this market and we will do what’s necessary to make it a success,” he said.

The GOL flight will be via Bogotá, Colombia, to St. Maarten. The current seasonal charter flight from Brazil executed by CVC using a GOL aircraft is completely booked.



Carpenter stands trial for sex with two minors

PHILIPSBURG--A 36-year-old man stood trial Wednesday on charges that he allegedly had sexual contacts with two minor girls. Carpenter M.G.P. is facing six years in jail if the Court considers it proven that he had committed illicit sexual acts with his stepdaughter and his wife’s cousin.

The suspect admitted that he had had a sexual relationship with his wife’s cousin between August 2003 and August 2005. The girl was older than 12 at that time, but had not yet reached the age of 15, which is the age of consent in the Netherlands Antilles.

M.G.P. said he was “a little” seduced by the girl, who was tall for her age. He told Judge Monique Keppels that he had only discovered later that she was only 14. “She looked like 15 or 16,” he told the judge. He said he ended the relationship when the girl became jealous and had started making problems.

M.G.P. denied he had ever been in a sexual relationship with his stepdaughter, from August 2004, when the girl was 10-years-old, until August 2009 when she was 15.

He said the girl had been a handful and disobedient, and had been roaming the streets at will, indicating that according to him she had fabricated the allegations to get even with her stepfather.

According to Prosecutor Rienk Mud, M.G.P. was performing damage control. “He admitted only partially to the allegations. That’s a nice story, but I don’t believe it at all.”

The Prosecutor said Wednesday that the case started rolling after the cousin was referred to a psychologist because she was auto-mutilating herself. After the stepdaughter had left her home, the cousin, who knew that M.G.P. also had sexual contacts with his stepdaughter, brought the case into the open.

According to his stepdaughter, the man started abusing her when she was ten. “I thought I had finally found a dad,” she had told the Police, “but look what he has done to me.” The Prosecutor said he had little doubt that M.G.B. had committed the crimes.

In her final plea as a criminal lawyer, attorney Anjenie Lachman said her client, who is suffering from leukaemia, is denying the allegation that he had had sexual contacts with his stepdaughter or had threatened her.

“The girl is very unruly. She had tried to commit suicide with a razor blade when she was 12. She’s currently living together with her 24-year-old boyfriend,” Lachman said in a brief sketch of the victim’s character.

Maybe the girls had fabricated the story of sexual abuse, said Lachman in pleading for a sentence equal to her client’s pre-trial detention, or a suspended sentence. The Judge will give her decision on February 24.



Richards refuses DP meeting on election

Franklyn_Richards_newPHILIPSBURG--Lt. Governor Franklyn Richards has rejected a request from the opposition Democratic Party (DP) for a meeting with him to discuss issues pertaining to the January 22 Parliamentary elections, the role of the Island Council and other matters.

DP leader Island Councilwoman Sarah Wescot-Williams and DP Island Councilman Roy Marlin are taken aback by Richards’ response in which he directed the party to take its complaints/issues to the Island Council and/or to the Executive Council.

Wescot-Williams said Richards’ response was “very much regretted.”

Richards who is chairman of the Island and Executive Councils, as well as of the Main Voting Bureau, said in a letter to Wescot-Williams that after “careful consideration” he could not honour the request for a meeting and the party would be “better served” by contacting the Island Council or the Executive Council for a hearing.

Wescot-Williams told a press conference held in the Parliament Building Tuesday, “More and more the Island Council, the legislative arm of government, is being sidelined” and the request for a meeting with Richards was to obtain a clear indication of what exactly has been happening to the council’s important function.

In addition to the role of the Island Council, the party also wished to discuss several issues pertaining to occurrences on the Parliamentary election day, January 22. Chief among these, Wescot-Williams said, was the closing of some polling stations for the counting of ballots at the end of the voting period.

Party representatives at some polling stations reportedly had problems observing the counting of ballots and had to call the Main Voting Bureau for clarification about whether they could have been allowed to stay on as observers.

Another issue DP said it wanted to discuss was the use of St. Martin’s Home as a polling station. Wescot-Williams said the home was an ideal choice in theory, but not in practice, because voters had to park some distance away and walk to the station.



Suspended cop reportedly surrenders for Lloyd killing

PHILIPSBURG--A policeman who has been suspended by the force reportedly surrendered to police this week for killing model trainer Christian Lloyd more than a week ago.

The Daily Herald understands that G.S., who still has a case pending in court challenging the termination of his services, turned himself over either late Monday or early Tuesday, confessing to causing the head injury that killed 37-year-old Lloyd. Lloyd was found dead in his home in St. Peters on Monday, January 25, and his autopsy was performed Tuesday this week.

Authorities refused to confirm any arrests or confessions. Another officer, also with initials G.S., has been implicated wrongly in the case.

Prosecutor Rienk Mud was unwilling to reveal much about the investigation into Lloyd’s death. He said investigators were talking to persons who possibly were involved. “We’re questioning several people in the Lloyd case,” Mud said, “I can’t comment any further.”

Lloyd died from a violent attack, Mud told this newspaper last week. Friends and family believe Lloyd had been dead at least a day before a cousin and his girlfriend found his body lying on a blood-stained bed.

The response has been overwhelming. Dozens of people who knew Lloyd mourned the loss, remembering him as a giving and generous person whose passion was making girls models and pageant queens. Friends celebrated his life with a candlelight memorial on Sunday.

The suspect S. is the first person who has been held for the killing, according to reports. He reportedly was suspended from the force for misconduct.

Police Sergeant G.S., who owns a security firm, was not involved.

According to some media reports, the suspect was sent to Curaçao Tuesday, but that information could not be confirmed.

Police refused to comment.



Govt seeks independent review of waste system

~DP raises outstanding issues~

PHILIPSBURG--The National Alliance (NA)/Heyliger government is seeking to have the firm KEMA conduct an independent cost and quality control/feasibility study of the proposed waste-to-energy plant that is to be built by Windward Roads Infrastructure to tackle the island’s growing garbage problem.

Approval for the control was tabled in the Central Committee Monday, because it will cost more than 100,000 euros, which excesses the amount that the Executive Council is allowed to sign off on without Island Council approval.

Democratic Party (DP) leader/Island Councilwoman Sarah Wescot-Williams said at a party press conference Tuesday that DP had no problem with the matter being sent directly to the Island Council as long as all questions posed are answered in timely manner and a copy of the Terms of Reference is received.

DP members question the independent control included the scope of the study and if government will have to renegotiate contracts based on the results.

Island Councilman Roy Marlin (DP) said that such independent controls are common when government is doing a project, with the aim of ensuring the prices quoted are realistic and, in this case, that the capacity of the waste-to-energy plant is within proportion to the needs of the island.

NA faction members wanted further deliberations in the Central Committee on the hiring of the firm.

Also discussed in the Monday’s meeting was a proposed change to the Island Ordinance on the Spatial Development transition stipulation, in other words the procedure that is to be followed for applying and granting planning/building permits when no guidelines (temporary or otherwise) exist.

Government intends to outsource the development of the pending preparatory resolutions to a private firm. Funding for this has been requested from the Development Fund of the Netherlands Antilles USONA.

Meanwhile, Wescot-Williams has raised several outstanding issues with Central Committee Chairman George Pantophlet; chief among these is a status report from St. Maarten Harbour Group of Companies.

The opposition party had requested last year that all government-owned companies give the Island Council – in a central Committee setting – a status report. So far all companies except the harbour group have done so.

“So far we have heard nothing further from or about the harbour,” she said.

Also pending for handling are several topics referred back to the Central Committee during the September 4, 2009 Island Council meeting. On that list are the Code of Conduct for civil servants, the draft law on the Office of the Ombudsman, the new Electoral Law, registration and financing of political parties.

“We simply cannot understand the delay or hesitation about bringing these to the Central Committee [for deliberations],” Wescot-Williams told the press Tuesday.



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