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Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Haitian nationals and Dominican pleads guilty to attempting to leave the island illegally

Four Haitian nationals and one Dominican will return to court on April 8, 2021, when they will know their fate after pleading guilty to attempting to leave Dominica via an unapproved port to Martinique on March 22, 2021.

According to the facts, as presented in court on Thursday, April 1, 2021, by police prosecutor Inspector Davidson Cadette, the Dominica Coast Guard at about 9 am responded to a call from the Marine Search & Rescue Emergency Center of Martinique from a distress call from a boat “One Short” about one (1) mile out of Scotts Heads.

“As a result, the Coast Guard captained by Alexis Bellot and two other officers went in search of the distressed vessel, but a search from the reported located proved futile,” he told the court.

He said that the officers then went west and saw some disturbance on the water and moving closer saw the boat “One Short.”

“A quick observation by the officers was that the boat was loaded with passengers and based on the sea conditions decided to escort it to the Coast Guard Base at Woodbridge Bay Fond Cole.”

He told the court that the boat registration number J7090SFE was powered by a sixty-horse Yamaha engine and had nine (9) male passengers on board. They were all asked to disembark and escorted to the Coast Guard Base compound with their bags. A search was conducted in the bags and on the individuals but nothing illegal was found.

The Haitians are Celes Benoit, Wisken Saint Pierre, Wilvensky Joseph and Asly Tibeau. The Dominican is Delbert Michael Xavier of Soufriere. Of the four Haitians only Asly Tibeau who was not represented by a lawyer. The three others and the Dominican were represented by lawyer Wayne Norde.

A check by police revealed that all the Haitians arrived in Dominica legally via the Douglas Charles Airport and over the past two years have requested and obtained an extension of time on their permit while working in various fields.

They were also quarantined at the government quarantine facility in Portsmouth.

In his mitigation plea, Norde asked the court to “temper justice with mercy and in the circumstances not to impose a custodial sentence on his clients.”

“They (Haitians) understand that what they have done was wrong and are remorseful, but their action was in frustration and desperation since it had become very difficult to get an extension of time over the past few months,” he said.

Norde also told the court that all the men have family ties to Dominica.

Tibeau did his own mitigation and told the court that he has cataract in his eyes and has been trying to get out of Dominica for further medical attention but immigration says that it was “impossible.”

“I have my wife and children in Haiti and I am the sole breadwinner, I am not working in Dominica and have tried all ways to get help but I have not been successful so I decided to try some…if you send me to prison, I won’t get the required help needed given my health conditions,” he told the court.

Presiding Magistrate Pearl Williams then adjourned the matter to April 8, 2021, for sentencing, on that day she will also hear the facts in the Delbert Michael Xavier matter. All the men have been remanded to the Stock Farm Prison until that date.    


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