The Court of First Instance on Tuesday sentenced Police Officer Lenaldo A. Courtar (39) to six months suspended, on three years’ probation, for mistreatment of a minor and of a detainee, and of perjury committed in an official report about the arrest.
The case was heard on June 14, during which the Prosecutor called for a suspended sentence with 240 hours of community service. Courtar’s lawyer pleaded for an acquittal.
The Judge on Tuesday stated he found it proven that on February 29, Courtar had hit a nine-year-old boy several times with a PVCpipe in St. Eustatius. The officer explained to the Court that he had merely given a number of “corrective taps,” while acting in some kind of a “father role.” Despite the fact that Courtar had stated he had acted with permission of the child’s legal representative, the Court found mistreatment proven, because the child had sustained injury and had been in pain.
The Judge said that as an officer of the law, the defendant “could and should have known better. He could have advised the legal representative about the possibilities, or call for the assistance of the proper authorities in charge with child and youth care.”
Officer Courtar also was found guilty of mistreatment of a person on Saba on August 9, 2013. He had caught the man while entering a supermarket bare chested, which is against the local ordinance.
He had used violence during the arrest as he claimed the man had become aggressive and had come at him with a bunch of keys pointing at his head. The Officer had called for assistance and the man was arrested on the street and taken to the Police Station. Footage of the supermarket’s video-surveillance camera and the victim’s own statement, however, provided a totally different version of what had transpired.
The victim said the Officer had fined him for walking around with a bare chest several times before the 2013 incident, but the Prosecutor’s Office had never taken any action against him, and had explained him why. However, the Officer in question continued fining him.
The Judge said he was under the impression the issue had a personal character, and found that not the victim, but the Police Officer had become aggressive and had turned to violence “without any provocation.” Apparently he had tried to conceal this by drafting a false Police record on the incident, the Judge added. His acts had “severely undermined and shamed the authority and trust vested in the Police,” the Court stated.
These crimes warranted an unconditional prison sentence, but the Court took into account that the Saba case had taken place almost three years ago, and had led to a conditional dismissal by the Prosecutor’s Office. Courtar also received disciplinary punishment by the Caribbean Netherlands Police Force, consisting of a suspension and the loss of one salary scale. He has been suspended since the investigations into his case started on March 4.
The Daily Herald.