Published On: Wed, Jun 13th, 2018

Double murder trial set for September 12

Kathron Fortune

PHILIPSBURG – Kathron Fortune, the convicted murderer who escaped from the Pointe Blanche prison on February 15, 2016, is at the center of a new murder trial. Fortune and two others are the main suspects in the murders of Luiz Diaz-Sarante and Edwin Rosario on December 5, 2016.

The other suspects are Tito Jahatan F. (28) and Kalaika Kisha Kalamee S. (32). These two suspects appeared in the Court in First Instance on Wednesday morning for a pro forma hearing; Kathron Fortune attended the hearing via a video link. He is currently detained in the heavily secured prison in Vught in the Netherlands.

Tito F. and his female co-defendant Kalaika S. were brought into the courtroom in Philipsburg by members of the arrest team, all wearing balaclavas and dark ski glasses. Both defendants were handcuffed to a belt around their waist. In Vught, Kathron Fortune appeared on screen dressed in a white sports jacket and without handcuffs.

The court handled some formalities in the absence of the attorneys for Tito F. (Safira Ibrahim) and Kalaika S. (Geert Hatzmann). The pro bono attorneys are still on strike and there is no end in sight.

Kathron Fortune does not have an attorney. Sjamira Roseburg briefly represented him, but she has desisted; the Dutch attorney Polman also has withdrawn as Fortune’s legal counsel. The court offered Fortune another attorney, but he turned it down.

The court implored Fortune to find himself a good attorney. “If you don’t manage, I will appoint an attorney,’ the judge told him.

The public prosecutor said that two witnesses still have to be heard at the Judge of Instruction. The prosecutor proposed September 12 as the trial date, but it is uncertain whether Kathron Fortune will be part of that hearing because he still does not have an attorney.

Bringing Fortune back to St. Maarten represents some problems of its own. “He seems to be a suspect in a murder case on the French side,” the prosecutor said. “There are also safety and security considerations to think of.”

If push comes to shove, the judge added, another option is to establish a St. Maarten court in the Netherlands for the occasion. Kalaika S.’s attorney had asked the court to suspend her client’s pretrial detention.

The woman’s children are currently in the care of her grandmother and she indicated to the court that she would love to be reunited with her family.

“Considering the seriousness of the charges the personal circumstances have to be extremely special to honor a suspension,” the public prosecutor said. “I do not see the need to reunite her with her family.” He asked the court to deny the request.

“You remain detained,” the judge ruled. “I understand your desire to be with your family but this is a serious crime and your personal circumstances do not prevail.”