WILLEMSTAD--The prosecution wants former Curaçao Prime Minister Gerrit Schotte’s earlier conviction to be confirmed by the Court of Justice in the Babel case and his prison sentence to be executed immediately regardless whether he chooses to make use of his final appeal option to the High Court in the Netherlands.
Schotte declared his innocence. The current Member of Parliament (MP) was sentenced in 2016 to three years in prison and a five-year prohibition to stand as candidate in elections, for corruption, money-laundering and forgery.
Schotte’s life partner Cicely van der Dijs was also sentenced to 18 months in prison, of which nine were suspended, with three years’ probation, for facilitating what is considered bribery. She too claimed to be innocent.
The execution of their sentences was suspended because the couple filed an appeal. Solicitor-General Leomar Angela requested that the three-judge panel have Schotte detained right away should a prison sentence be upheld, because society cannot understand how a person convicted of corruption is still allowed to get elected into Parliament.
The Court of First Instance found last year that Schotte had received money from Italian casino boss living in St. Maarten Francesco Corallo. There were two related allegedly-false invoices worth US $140,000 and $73,447 from Van der Dijs’ company Vanddis.
However, according to Schotte, Corallo used to be a friend. That ended when the MFK leader rejected invoices sent to him three times by the casino boss, who has the Dutch nationality.
Schotte spoke of a donation to his Wi-Fi-bus project when he was still with MAN, before MFK was even founded. However, Corallo allegedly contributed some $210,000 to the new party’s campaign.
Angela also mentioned a “promissory note” indicating that Schotte had to pay Corallo back $700,000 if he did not do what was expected of him.
The couple’s lawyer Geert-Jan Knoops stated at the outset that this case should be declared inadmissible. Two anonymous e-mails would have led to the investigation and, according to Knoops, it is unclear whether these actually existed.
He did not convince the Court and his clients’ trial continued. The verdict is expected in a few weeks.