Published On: Thu, Nov 29th, 2018

Supreme Court upholds Schotte’s conviction

Gerrit Schotte Cicely van der Dijs - Photo CuracaoChronicle

THE HAGUE – In a 65-page ruling containing 169 articles the Supreme Court has confirmed the conviction of Curacao’s former Prime Minister Gerrit Schotte to 3 years of imprisonment and a 5-year ban from membership of parliament. His partner Cicely van der Dijs also saw her verdict confirmed by the highest court in the kingdom: 15 months of imprisonment with 6 months suspended.

The ruling put St. Maarten’s casino owner Francesco Corallo once more in the spotlights. Schotte accepted more than $213,000 from Corallo to finance his Movementu Futuro Korsou (MFK) in the run-up to the 2010 elections. After the elections, Schotte became the first prime minister of Curacao, but – according to the Supreme Court ruling – his political victory came at a heavy price.

In exchange for Corallo’s donation Schotte had agreed to give the casino owner a say in all decisions concerning MFK; Schotte was liable to the payment $700,000 in case of non-compliance.

In September 2010, Corallo informed Schotte that Payo was not a good candidate-minister (“being a good doctor does not mean that you will be a good minister of health”); later that year, he proposed his financial man Rudolf Baetsen as the new chairman for the supervisory board of the Central Bank. Baetsen later withdrew his candidacy.

Corallo also asked for Schotte’s influence to obtain a visa for the United States.

The Dutch web site Koninkrijksrelaties.nu (Kingdomrelations.now) does not beat about the bush in its description of the Supreme court ruling. It describes Corallo as “a Mafia boss” and states that Schotte, Corallo and “a number of unsavory businessmen” put the “charismatic Schotte” in the position of prime minister in exchange for all kinds of favors.

The courts are not done with Schotte yet. The former prime minister has appealed a ruling that demands he pay back 1.8 million guilders (roughly $1 million) in criminal revenue.

Koninkrijksrelaties.nu notes with glee that there could still be more troubles on the horizon: “Schotte has not been indicted yet for the hundreds of millions that did not end up in the state coffers due to misappropriation of funds at government owned companies during his term as prime minister.”

While the Supreme Court explains extensively why it agrees with the Common Court of Justice’s decision to deny the defense’s request to hear the Milanese prosecutor Pellicano, Schotte’s attorney Geert Jan Knoops maintains that his client did not get a fair trial because of this decision. The defense considers taking the case for this reason to the European Human Rights Court.

Such a move will not save Schotte from serving his sentence. At best he could get financial compensation out of such a procedure.

So what’s next for Schotte? First the attorney-general will inform the chairman of the parliament in Curacao that the verdict against Schotte has become irrevocable. This will lead to the immediate termination of his membership of parliament, Koninkrijksrelaties.nu reports.

Next step: the prosecutor’s office serves the verdict by registered mail to Schotte. Then it will have to see whether there is a place available for him in prison. If there is, the prosecutor’s office will offer him a ride to the prison.

According to Koninkrijksrelaties.nu Schotte recently left Curacao.

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Publisher’s note: The news that Schotte had left Curacao indeed spread quickly like wild fire on the internet and social media. Whatsapp messages on Tuesday claimed that Schotte had fled the country to The Dominican Republic where there is no extradition with the Kingdom of the Netherlands. However, MFK party member of Parliament Charles Cooper was quick to denounce the rumors via Whatsapp himself stating that Schotte and his life partner were right there in Curacao still fighting the injustice that was served upon them and that the MFK party stood firmly behind its leader and his partner in their time of difficulty. The couple is also awaiting the court’s verdict in their appeal case against the liens placed on their earnings as is being enforced in the recovery process as a result of Schotte’s conviction. It is expected that Schotte will voluntarily report to prison as soon as his membership of Parliament has been revoked.

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