FSM Court hands down light sentences to convicted human traffickers in Chuuk
- Category: News
- Published: Sunday, 19 November 2017 15:51
- Written by Bill Jaynes
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By Bill Jaynes
The Kaselehlie Press
October 30, 2017
Chuuk—Associate Justice Larry Wentworth of the FSM Supreme Court in Chuuk handed down surprisingly light sentences for the FSM’s first successful human trafficking prosecution.
Convicted felons Cortez Benedicto and Rieta Eram each faced as much as 45 years in jail and $85,000 in fines for their crimes. What they got was significantly less than that.
Justices are not required to define reasons for their sentences and no reason was given for the light sentences provided for the victimization of a then 14 year old girl.
The Court decided that Benedicto’s sentence of 15 months should be suspended except for weekends between 6:00 PM on each Saturday night until 6:00 AM each Monday morning and placed on probation for the rest of the 15 months. While he is on probation he can’t leave Chuuk without the permission of the Court. He must report to the Court’s Omsbudsman every month. He can’t have any contact with the victim of his crime. When he is not working, he is to be confined at the GPPC Construction camp in Mwan. The Court also assigned a $5000 fine which can be paid in a lump sum. Otherwise, he must pay $200 each pay period until the fine is paid. The $200 he initially paid for bail is being applied to that fine by court order.
Eram’s sentence was even lighter. She got probation for 15 months and no fine for providing a minor in her custody to Benedicto for the purposes of sexual exploitation.
The sentence has some prosecutors shaking their heads in bewilderment.
“We have to respect the Court’s decision because that is how the criminal justice system works. We will work within the law and keep on enforcing it. If we need the law to be amended for more strict minimum punishments we can ask Congress to consider that possibility as an amendment,” said Joses Gallen, FSM’s Secretary for the Department of Justice.