Van Raak happy with ruling in Schotte case
THE HAGUE – In the Sint Maarten newspaper The Daily Herald, the Member of the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament Ronald van Raak of the Socialist Party (SP) said that he welcomed the news that former Curaçao Prime Minister Gerrit Schotte has been sentenced by the Court for corruption.
Van Raak said in a written statement that he sent to the press following Schotte’s sentencing by the Court in Curaçao, that he was “very happy” with this ruling, “because Schotte allowed himself to be paid by the gambling industry, in particular casino boss Francesco Corallo of St. Maarten, who has been associated with the mafia.”
The Court considered proven that the 41-year-old Schotte had allowed himself to be bribed by Corallo, who paid him more than US $1 million in exchange for political influence and government information. “The trust of the people has been severely damaged through your handling. Your personal interest came first,” the Judge stated in his ruling.
According to Van Raak, the three-year jail time imposed by the Court “does justice” to the “damage” that Schotte has caused for the Curaçao people. “The prohibition to take part in elections in the next five years should prevent him from causing more damage,” he stated.
The Member of Parliament (MP) said that the Court ruling was also important for the large-scale criminal investigation that the Netherlands, together with the United States and Italy, has started to look into the alleged ties between the underworld and upper world in Curaçao and St. Maarten.
This investigation, which was requested by the Second Chamber on the initiative of Van Raak and his colleague André Bosman of the liberal democratic VVD party, focuses on the links between the political establishment and the gambling industry on the islands.
“Today marked the start of a big clean-up of the Curaçao and St. Maarten politics. Hopefully many more cases against politicians and characters of the gambling industry will follow. By following the bad money, we can tackle bad politics and give the people in Curaçao and St. Maarten a fair chance to a better future,” stated Van Raak.
The Court considered proven that Schotte, who was Prime Minister from 2010 to 2012, had accepted bribes and sentenced him to three years in prison. Schotte immediately announced after the ruling that he would appeal the sentence.
Dutch Minister of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Ronald Plasterk did not want to comment on the ruling as the course of justice needed to be respected.