Thomas Charles: The story of a young man caught between Holland and Spain in judicial chaos

Thomas Charles is a young British man living in the Netherlands. His dream of being a sailor came true in 2018 when he obtained the license that accredits the European country. However, two years later, the police arrested him for having been a member of the Imagine, a ship that was later detained for cocaine trafficking. The defense tries to get the judge in Orihuela to allow Thomas to testify remotely, but she maintains her willingness to declare in Spain. Tomas Charles is a carpenter born in the United Kingdom and who has traveled much of the world thanks to his passion for sailing. For the last few years he has worked autonomously in the custom and commissioned furniture sector. However, he always had the sea among his passions. In fact, he studied for three years to obtain the certificate of international competence from the Royal Dutch Yacht Association, where he resided. He also completed a specialty to obtain the license of pilot of rental ships. Although he led a quiet life, everything changed in April 2019, when he was hired by Feadship, a company specialized in the remodeling and construction of yachts. This opportunity was unique, it would mix its two areas in one project. While developing his new occupation, the young Englishman had to continue generating the hours of navigation required to obtain his license. In the Netherlands up to 100 hours of navigation in deep water is required in addition to the official exam. Imagine photo. Although in 2018 Charles had his first experience under the command of Captain RobVan de Kreeke on the Denmark-Netherlands route, he still required to accumulate experience. This was where Mikke Toome appeared, who offered the young Charles a job. Apparently, a boat would cover the route from Valencia to Brazil, allowing Charles to add enough hours to access the navigation permit. The English would be under the command of the Dutch captain, Daniel Beeker. The “Imagin” set sail from Turia on June 15 with Charles on board, arrived in Fortaleza in Brazil on July 27. After crossing the ocean, the young man returned to Amsterdam by plane, since he had to take the exam on August 20. Tom got his sailing degree, so he could quit carpentry and dedicate himself exclusively to sailing. In January 2019, the owner of the Imagine hired him again, but this time as captain. The mission was to drive the sailboat from Recife to Rio de Janeiro, 2,308 kilometers south by land. The first route was covered between January 19 and 28, 2019. Later, in March, it covered a second route from Salvador de Bahía to Rio de Janeiro. On April 12, she was returned to Amsterdam. After his two jobs he lost contact with the owner of the Imagine. Arrested for having been a crew member Three months later, the Dutch police detained him at his home. Apparently, the boat covered a route in May of that year from Rio to Itajaí, later the ship returned to Europe and on July 10 it was intercepted by the Portuguese Judicial Police, together with the Spanish, Dutch and Estonian police. In the boat, 497 kilos of cocaine were found hidden in the cabin. The operation was judicially coordinated by a magistrate from Orihuela and started with international judicial assistance sent from Estonia. The case was taken up by the Orihuela Investigating Court 2, since some of the detainees had a fixed address in the Pilar de Horadara municipality. The main thread was born from Mikk Toome, that contact that Tom met before obtaining the navigation permit. The ship had returned to Europe three months after Thomas. However, the judge decided to increase the number of arrests, including Thomas Charles, for being among the crew members of 2019, this would be the reason for the arrest of the English. At least, this is stated in the order dated July 12, 2019, by which it was agreed to issue an OEDE to claim it. However, the young man’s defense alleged that he was not on the last trip, nor on the Imagine’s return to Europe. For this reason, he was not arrested during the police operation, but later at his home in Amsterdam. Casper Igor Van Zantwijk and Captain Toome testified in separate testimonies that Thomas had not participated, and had no idea what the other crew of the Imagine were doing. However, the judge did not appeal and Charles spent eight days in preventive detention until he was released on bail. In March 2020, the young man was informed that the Dutch court in charge of deciding on the OEDE that his delivery to Spain had been agreed. Thomas volunteered on March 13, but the hearing was suspended due to the coronavirus crisis. On June 5, the defense of the young man was informed that he should be sent to Spain on the 9th of the same month, however, an “internal error” by the Dutch police prevented this from happening. “Now we have to wait for a third try. What can you expect here? An entry into a Madrid prison, first, for several days. Then his shipment to Orihuela and, again, another indefinite period of preventive detention. Until the magistrate takes a statement from her, ”explains her lawyer Jaime Campaner. The defense maintains that it has always complied with police requirements and has always been willing to collaborate with the justice system. The young man has acquired a debt of up to 37,000 euros in defense and has lost his job in the legal case against him. In response to requests from the defense to testify by videoconference so that Thomas can rebuild his life, there has been no response from the court in Orihuela that maintains its investigation against the young sailor.