Published On: Fri, Jul 21st, 2017

Gerrit Schotte: From Prime Minister to suspect

Gerrit-Schotte-Foto-ANPWILLEMSTAD - Today, the Court of Justice in Curaçao will pronounce sentencing in the case of former Prime Minister Gerrit Schotte. What do we know about this politician?

Gerrit Schotte was Prime Minister of Curaçao from 2010 to 2012.

He was the first Prime Minister of the island since it became an autonomous nation within the Kingdom of the Netherlands on October 10, 2010. After the elections, his party Movementu Futuro Korsou (MFK) formed a government with the parties Pueblo Soberano and MAN. In 2012, two members of the coalition declared themselves independent in parliament due to the non-closing budget. Schotte offered his resignation shortly thereafter.

During that time, Schotte placed Curaçao in a negative spotlight internationally by accusing the opposition parties of a coup against him. This was, of course, all fabricated.

Schotte is suspected of money laundering, official corruption and forgery.

According to the Public Prosecutor's Office (OM) in Curaçao, Schotte received money from the Italian casino boss Francesco Corallo to finance his election campaign. In return, Corallo would have far-reaching political influence and a determining role in the formation of the party of Schotte and the largest opposition party of the island, the MFK. Corallo even had a vote in appointing ministers and in appointing the Commissioner of the Central Bank.

Schotte was sentenced for this in 2016 by the Court of First Instance

He was sentenced to three years in prison and not allowed to stand as a candidate during elections for five years. The politician appealed against this sentence and declared himself innocent earlier this year.

Schottes life partner, Cicely van der Dijs, was also convicted.

She is suspected of forgery and money laundering. Last year she received nine months in prison. In the appeal, the OM also demanded another nine months.

Despite his conviction, Schotte remained politically active last year.

In February 2017, the government of Hensley Koeiman fell after seven weeks. Two members of Pueblo Soberano, the party of murdered politician Helmin Wiels, declared themselves against the coalition after they were convinced by Schotte.

Koeiman dissolved the parliament and called snap elections scheduled for April 28, 2017.

This was against Schotte’s plans, who thought it was the oppositions’ turn to form a new majority. This would open the road for him to become the de facto Prime Minister. He was unable to become Prime Minister because of his conviction.

Schotte and a majority of parliament demanded that the elections be suspended.

With the motion that was adopted in March, the Netherlands was expected to cancel the elections. When this did not take place, the interim government led by Schotte made an appeal to the European Court. This did not work out either, and Curaçao was able to vote on the 28th of April.

In retrospect, Minister Ronald Plasterk called for the cancellation of the elections "in fact a coup".

Plasterk (Minister of the Interior and Kingdom Relations) received the request from the interim government not to cooperate with the elections. The head of the Supreme Electoral Council was commissioned by the Interior Minister of the Interim Government not to organize the elections, according to Plasterk. "And then there was some clarity, because in fact - it's a big word - it's actually a coup," Plasterk said during a television program. Plasterk was ultimately the one who instructed the Governor of Curaçao to organize the elections without the permission of the Interim Government.

After the elections, a new government was formed without the MFK.

The winning party PAR signed a letter of agreement together with Partido MAN and the new party PIN of Suzy Camelia-Römer. With this agreement, the Schotte’s party remained definitively out of the new government.

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