British Virgin Islands

Tuesday, Nov 24, 2020

Trial starts for USVI man caught with bag of jewellery days after Irma

Trial starts for USVI man caught with bag of jewellery days after Irma

A nine-member jury is expected to decide whether a man from St Thomas, US Virgin Islands (USVI) found carrying a number of gold and silver jewellery after three jewellery stores in Road Town were looted after Hurricane Irma, is guilty or not.

Kasim Benti’s trial for two counts of Handling Stolen Goods started on Monday, September 28, 2020 in the High Court.

Justice Stanley John is presiding over the matter, while Senior Prosecutor Ms Annjel X. Flax represents the Office of the Director of Public Prosecution.

Benti does not have any legal representation and is defending himself during these criminal proceedings.

Three stores looted


According to Ms Flax, during the time of the defendant’s arrest on September 8, 2017, Little Denmark, Samarkand Jewellers and Mi Amor Jewellers were looted.

She said the three stores all located in walking distance of each other had been secured for the impending hurricane by their owners.

However, when the owners came to assess the damage, they noticed that they were victims of the territory-wide looting that was taking place after the destructive hurricane.

She explained that on the day in question, members of the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force were conducting mobile patrols during the night-time curfew near the Cyril B. Romney Tortola Pier Park when they received information that Mi Amor Jewellery store was being burgled.

When they arrived, the defendant and another man were spotted near the building.

The duo fled, but the defendant was caught and searched, and in his backpack, police found an undisclosed amount of money, jewellery, a flashlight, and a knife.

Benti was arrested and taken into custody and later charged with the offences before the court.

No fingerprints


While urging the jury to be impartial, Ms Flax said reasonable inference in the matter could be drawn in relation to the jewellery that was found on the defendant’s person, despite the fact that prosecution did not have any fingerprints linking the defendant to the crime scenes.

On day one, four witnesses took the stand to testify, including the Virtual Complainants in the matter and police officers.

The trial continues today, September 29, 2020, with more testimonies, and it is expected to come to a close during the course of the day.

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