Mr L’s embankment work examined by the Court

Mr. L., who discharged rubble in the lagoon, has been accused by the Samagest of causing esthetic damage and encroaching on the Marina Royale by one meter.

After having requested an adjournment a few weeks ago in order to prepare his defense with a lawyer, this 57-year old man will finally present his case before the criminal court alone. He was summoned due to a complaint filed by the Samagest, the subsidiary of the Semsamar which is in charge of operating and managing the two marinas in Marigot. More specifically, their dispute is about a meter of embankment at the Marina Royale.

The Samagest wrote to the prosecutor in September 2015 to inform him about the work started by Mr. L., on its concession. According to the manager of the company, Mr. L. supposedly spilled  rubble in the lagoon and encroached on the marina premises by one meter, causing "esthetic damage".

Before the judge, Mr. L. explained that he owns a plot of land consisting of two lots (408 and 409) and that since 2006, he has been working on cleaning the strip of coastline which has been polluted by waste (sewage and other kinds of waste) from the Marina Royale. "With the wind, all the waste comes towards me. (…) After the cyclone, nobody came to clean this place", he said. “I’ve been here since 1985. I’ve been doing this for years and nobody has said anything to me until now", he said, without understanding why the Samagest is now complaining. He also argued that he has helped to enhance the site by planting banana trees and other plants.

The problem is that Mr. L. does not own the land as he claims he does. However, he filed a request for the acquisition of these lots located on the strip of the 50 geometric steps ten years ago. He also showed the judges a document from the prefecture and dated in 2006, indicating that he received a favorable opinion from the Commission which offered to sell him the land at a price of 30 euros per square meter. But he must provide other documents to complete his file and have it validated, which he has never done. And Mr. L. is even less the owner of the famous one-meter strip, which is involved in this trial, since it is located in the zone of the marina.

Its owner also raised a question. This strip belongs to the Collectivité, but the complaint was filed by the Samagest. From a legal point of view, the victim would therefore be the Collectivité and not the company, which manages the marina. The question of why the Collectivité did not come forward was asked by the Court. However, no answer was given.

The Samagest claims to have informed the Collectivité about the existence of this embankment but received no reply. Similarly, it called the gendarmerie nautical brigade, but they could not come due to a lack of time. It therefore called a bailiff to draw up a report, which was provided to the Court.

However, according to the prosecution, a bailiff’s report is not enough to file charges for an offense under the environmental code, which would be the case of this embankment. Such an offense must be recorded by specific persons who are listed in the environmental code, and the bailiff is not one of them. The Deputy Prosecutor also pointed out that no complaint was filed by the owner and no formal notice was sent to Mr L. He nevertheless requested that the site be restored to its former condition under fine.

The judgment was adjourned until December 15.

Estelle Gasnet