Supreme Court advised to uphold Schotte ruling | THE DAILY HERALD

THE HAGUE–The attorney-general in the Netherlands advised the Supreme Court on Tuesday to uphold the sentences of Curaçao politician Gerrit Schotte and his partner Cicely van der Dijs who have been convicted of corruption while in office, money-laundering and other crimes.

Attorney-General Edwin Bleichrodt studied the further appeal that Schotte and Van der Dijs had filed at the Supreme Court and came to the conclusion that none of the 14 grounds of cassation in the case of Schotte and seven in the case of Van der Dijs should result in the annulment of the July 21, 2017, ruling of the Court in Willemstad.

Bleichrodt advised the Supreme Court to reject both further appeals and to maintain the Court rulings. It is not known when the Supreme Court will rule in both cases, but it is unusual for the Court to put aside the advice of the attorney-general. This means that Schotte will have to do jail time.

Schotte was a politician in Curaçao at the time of the proven criminal facts. He founded the MFK party and became the first prime minister of the Country Curaçao when the island attained autonomous status within the Kingdom on October 10, 2010. He was prime minister until late September 2012. Currently, he is a Member of the Curaçao Parliament.

Corruption committed while in office plays a central role in the criminal case against Schotte. The Court of Appeal in Curaçao considered proven that the suspect had accepted gifts with the intention to give certain companies and persons preferential treatment. One such person was Francesco Corallo, who owns casinos in St. Maarten and paid Schotte at least NAf. 2 million to obtain influence in the Curaçao government and the Central Bank of Curaçao and St. Maarten (CBCS).

According to the Court, invoices of payments were falsified. Schotte and Van der Dijs were also found guilty of money-laundering and the possession of frequency-jammers to disrupt telecommunication.

Schotte was sentenced to three years in prison. He may also not participate in elections or be politically active for a period of five years. His partner with whom he has several children was sentenced to a jail term of 15 months of which six were conditional, for money-laundering. Both suspects filed an appeal at the Supreme Court.

In his conclusions, Attorney-General Bleichrodt addressed the further appeal grievances extensively, including the complaints against the evidence of bribery and the question whether Schotte was aware that he was being bribed when he accepted the monetary gifts.
If the Supreme Court follows the attorney-general’s advice, which it is expected to do, the Prosecutor’s Office in Curaçao will move to have Schotte serve his sentence. Besides doing jail time and taking away his passive voting right for five years, Schotte will have to pay NAf. 1.8 million to the country Curaçao.

The conclusion of the attorney-general constitutes independent advice to the Supreme Court which is free to decide whether to follow the advice. The attorney-general is a member of the Prosecution Counsel of the Supreme Court, which is an independent part of the judicial organisation and not part of the Prosecutor’s Office.

Source: The Daily Herald