Published On: Thu, Jan 17th, 2013

Netherlands see no reason to place rectification regarding Corallo

THE HAGUE – The Dutch newspaper Amigoe reports that after several attempts to solve their conflict outside court, the Italian-Dutch businessman Francesco Corallo and the Dutch government face each other today in the court house of The Hague.

Corallo, who was on St. Maarten owing to business commitments, demands a rectification of the suggestion that he has ties with the mafia. The Dutch government sees no reason to do so and believes he should present his request to the media or the Italian government. The judgment will be pronounced on January 30th.

The conflicts regards the letter dated May 26th 2011, which the Dutch embassy in Italy had sent to former premier Gerrit Schotte, who considered offering Corallo a post and therefore requested a certificate of good character. The letter leaked out to the press in October 2012. “That letter is the sting in this case”, stated lawyers Raymond de Mooij and Arthur de Groot on behalf of Corallo. “In the challenged letter the ambassador informed the government on Curaçao that information from Italy shows Corallo (who for that matter is a Dutch citizen) is involved with international drug trade, an important person in the Sicilian mafia and involved with money laundering on St. Maarten”, said De Groot. Corallo’s lawyers stated this morning that that information is incorrect. After that first letter from the embassy, the Italian minister of Justice namely sent a letter on July 30th 2011 and a fax on August 3rd 2011 stating they found no fault with Corallo. “In Italy (…) the government actually explicitly indicated that Corallo is spotless and can be appointed a government position”, said De Groot. At the request of the judge, he confirmed there was an arrest warrant for Corallo in May 2012, followed by an international apprehension order from Interpol, but that regarded the fact that Corallo wasn’t registered on St. Maarten. “It was a mistake from the Italian Justice, which was rectified shortly afterwards”, said De Groot. The lawyer also referred to the many concessions which Corallo received from the Italian government for his companies, rectifications in the Italian media on alleged criminal activities and a statement in a book from mafia-accuser Pietro Grasso that Corallo and his brother had no ties with the mafia. Nor had Corallo taken his heels. He was simply residing on St. Maarten, they said.


De Groot and De Mooij had also queried how the accusing letter of May 26th had come about. It was namely the written reproduction of a conversation on May 19th between a certain Mrs. Mazzuca from the Italian ministry of Justice and the acting agent Mrs. Kopmels from the Dutch embassy in Rome. “Not much is known of Mrs. Mazzuca besides that she went to work at a school shortly afterwards, which gives an indication of the authorities and position she had”, said De Groot. The fact that also the Italian ministry of Justice found it necessary to send supplemental letters, points out that the first letter wasn’t official.

Rectification Corallo brought before court

The rectification in De Telegraaf and a revised letter to the government of Curaçao is demanded because the Dutch government hadn’t verified the information from the letter of May 26th and hadn’t done anything to set the difference between the statements on Corallo straight. Furthermore, De Groot stated that the letter from the embassy to former premier Schotte should have been classified secret as additional indication that it regarded confidential information, thus referring to a remark from Lower Chamber member Martijn van Dam (PvdA) that confidential letters on Curaçao are always leaked to the press.


Lawyer Wenneke Wisman, who represented the Dutch government, stated much of the submitted information was irrelevant and not factual. She said the Dutch government has no reason to assume that the information in the letter of May 26th 2011 was incorrect or required verification because the information had come from the Italian police and intelligence service. “I’ve heard no arguments that the statements were not made. It regarded a meeting at high level and at the invitation of the Cabinet of the Italian ministry of the Interior. It is entirely speculative what happened with Mrs. Mazzuca afterwards and what that says about her authorities”, she said. According to her, the information wasn’t entirely that contradictive with the letters from the Italian authorities later on, which stated the Italian ministries of the Interior and Foreign Affairs didn’t have any incriminating documents on Corallo. Verifying information from another country, even if the Netherlands is capable of doing such, is very unusual as well, she said. Moreover, the letter of May 26th indicates which information was from the Italian authorities and which information was from the Dutch embassy. “It seems to be a classic case of shooting the messenger”, she said.

Wisman also stated that although the letter had been stamped confidential it was sent per sealed diplomatic post, thus showing it was confidential. However, the Dutch government cannot be blamed for the letter leaking out. “It’s a nuisance if sensitive information cannot be forwarded in writing because there’s a possibly it be made public.” One could not have prevented Lower Chamber members and the then minister Liesbeth Spies in the Lower Chamber from discussing the letter, but they can never be prosecuted owing to their parliamentary immunity. “It wasn’t until one and a half year later that the letter appeared in the Caribbean media and subsequently in the Dutch media. It would be more obvious to request a rectification from the media that had leaked the letter or from the Italian government.”

In an explanation after the session the lawyers said no rectification had been requested from the media to keep the matter outside publicity as much as possible. “We’d rather not have instituted these summary proceedings but conversations for a mutual settlement hadn’t led to anything”, said De Groot.

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