Published On: Wed, Mar 28th, 2018

Man sentenced for possessing semi-automatic weapon

Semi-Automatic UziPHILIPSBURG – On December 21, unknown gunmen fired shots at Erno Labega jr. when he came back home. His car was riddled with bullet holes and Labega sustained serious injuries, but he survived. When police arrived on the scene, officers found a handgun behind the victim’s car; when they searched his house, they found a semi-automatic Uzi hidden in a wardrobe. For the possession of that last weapon, the Court in First Instance sentenced Labega on Wednesday to 12 months imprisonment.

Labega, 35, does not have to go to prison immediately though, because the court extended the suspension of his pretrial detention. During this time, his passport remains in the hands of the authorities.

Police officers saw that day in December a car riddled with bullet holes on the Guadeloupe Road; they also found  traces of blood leading to a nearby home. It soon appeared that Labega had been the target of an attempt on his life.

Labega said in court that he has no idea who the gunmen could be. He also said he has no explanation for the handgun that was found behind his car after the shooting and denied it was his. He admitted though that he owned the Uzi.

The public prosecutor noted that investigators had found an unused bullet on the driver’s seat of the car and that it matched the bullets in the handgun. “There seemed to be blood on the weapon and there was only one person bleeding that night,’ he said.

On a certain level, the prosecutor felt for the defendant. “To live under threat must be a heavy burden. But that does not explain why you had an Uzi in your house.”

The prosecutor considered the possession of two firearms proven and demanded a 16-month prison sentence.

Labega cooperated with the investigation, also because his wife had been taken into custody for two days after the discovery of the Uzi.

His attorney Shaira Bommel noted that it is not even certain whether her client was the designated target of the shooting. “He was shot at by several persons and sustained serious injuries. His brother-in-law drove him to the hospital. A day after the shooting he was arrested without a second thought in the hospital and taken to Pointe Blanche.”

Bommel cast doubts over the prosecutor’s position that the handgun belonged to her client. “The forensic report states that the substance found on the weapon seems to be blood, but it has not been established that it belongs to Labega. It is very well possible that one of the gunmen dropped the weapon.” She asked the court to acquit her client of this charge.Luger gun

The court followed suit and acquitted Labega of possessing the handgun, a Luger, but sentenced him for the Uzi, even though, the judge noted, “it is tempting to follow the arguments of the prosecutor.”