Attorneys of Corallo file complaint with European Human Rights Court

PHILIPSBURG–On April 20, the lawyers of businessman Francesco Corallo filed an official complaint with the European Court of Human Rights in Strassbourg, France, considering what they hold for “inhuman conditions” under which he is detained.

Attorneys Eldon “Peppi” Sulvaran, Paula Janssen, and Claudia Reijntjes-Wendenburg filed for summary proceedings with the European Court. “It has always been our position that problems within the prison system in St. Maarten (but also in Aruba and Curaçao may not come at the expense of detainees,” the three lawyers said in a statement.

Corallo was held on December 13, 2016, in response to a request by the judicial authorities in Italy for his extradition. He is suspected of tax evasion in Italy, misappropriation of money, money laundering, and membership in a transnational criminal organisation.

The extradition case was heard in Court on May 16 and on June 6. The Joint Court of Justice is to give its advice about the permissibility of Corallo’s extradition on June 20, and about a fourth request filed by his lawyers for their client’s immediate release pending his extradition to Italy because of what they consider inhumane detention circumstances at the Philipsburg Police Station.

In their petition to the Human Rights Court Corallo’s attorneys point out that the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture or Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment CPT after visiting the cell block in May 2014 filed a very critical report in August 2015 in which the Kingdom of the Netherlands was advised “that persons should not be detained at Philipsburg Police Station in excess of three days and in any event never longer than 10 days. The facility is totally inappropriate for holding remand and sentenced prisoners, and the CPT recommends that they be moved to alternative accommodation as soon as possible,” it was stated in the report.

Also the Law Enforcement Council was critical about safety in St. Maarten’s houses of detention in its report of December 2014. According to Corallo’s legal team the detention situation is St. Maarten has not improved to date.

In the meantime their client has been held in detention at the Police Station for six months. Since then his lawyers filed requests for Corallo’s conditional release on December 19, 2016, and on February 2, 2017, and March 21, 2017, which were all turned down by the Joint Court.

Corallo claims that his delicate health, – he was treated of a malignancy to his tongue in 2015, and is suffering of high blood pressure –, and his business interests make it impossible for his detention to continue.

The Prosecutor’s Office is against a suspension of the detention because Corallo is considered a flight risk since he owns a private jet. In addition, multiple identity cards had been found during a search of Corallo’s premises.

Corallo protests the fact that he has been staying for three months in a cell which measured 16 square meters and which he often had to share with five, six or seven other persons. Furthermore, the cells were dark and unhygienic and there was a foul odour. The unhygienic circumstances caused a dental infection, Corallo claimed.

Source: The Daily Herald