Number of sex workers to be heard in ‘Pompeii’ case
PHILIPSBURG – Six witnesses in the so-called “Pompeii” investigation involving charges of human trafficking, exploitation of brothel workers, deprivation of liberty and illegal employment against brothel owner Etienne “Tochi” Meyers (66) and manager D.F.F. (56) and against Le Petit Chateau manager L.M.R. (51) and assistant manager R.R. (48), still need to be heard by an Investigating Judge, it emerged during Wednesday’s procedural hearings.
During an earlier hearing in February, it was already stated it could take some time for the Investigating Judge to hear the women, all of whom are former sex workers, as they are currently most likely residing in the Dominican Republic.
One witness is residing in St. Maarten, attorney Shaira Bommel said Wednesday, but hearing the other women requires cooperation of the judicial authorities in the Dominican Republic, the Prosecutor explained.
To allow the Investigating Judge sufficient time to arrange the witness interviews, parties agreed to reconvene by the end of September to discuss the state of affairs at that point in time.
The four suspects allegedly committed their crimes between January 2014 and November 2016. According to the Prosecutor’s Office, these crimes were allegedly committed against 42 women working at the El Capitan and Le Petit Chateau brothels.
The Prosecutor said during a pro-forma hearing on December 6, 2017, that the defendants had enriched themselves “at the women’s expense” for years.
Meyers and D.D.F., who are considered the main suspects in this case, may be confronted with a dispossession claim of US $5 million, in case they would be convicted.
The Prosecutor said the women working at the two brothels had been recruited in the Dominican Republic and Colombia and given the wrong impression about their income, deductions and labour conditions.
When Le Petit Chateau and El Capitan were raided on November 1, 2016, 22 women were working at these establishments without residence and work permits, the Prosecutor stated. He said the prostitutes were locked up in their sleeping quarters outside working hours.
The defendants deny the allegations. Brothel owner Meyers was the only suspect to address the Court on Wednesday, “This case has destroyed my life. I have no social life anymore. Banks do not want to do business with me anymore. All of my assets are seized, including my bank account,” he said.