Van Raak not prosecuted for comments on Corallo

THE HAGUE–Member of the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament Ronald van Raak of the Socialist Party (SP) will not be prosecuted for his remarks about St. Maarten casino boss Francesco Corallo.

The Public Prosecutor’s Office in The Hague informed Van Raak earlier this week that it will not initiate prosecution based on the formal complaint of Dutch lawyer Gerard Spong on behalf of his client Corallo. ThePostOnline, the website which features regular columns written by Van Raak, announced this on Friday.

Corallo, through his lawyer, had filed a complaint against Van Raak on July 14 last year. The Member of Parliament (MP) was accused of “insult and offence” for calling Corallo a “mafia boss” in three articles/columns published on ThePostOnline, one in 2012 and two in 2015.

In a letter to Van Raak, dated March 29, of which a copy has been viewed by The Daily Herald, Chief Prosecutor Bart Nieuwenhuizen stated that he saw “insufficient reason” to pursue prosecution.

According to Nieuwenhuizen, “The articles were written to contribute to a political debate/social discussion, or to expose possible wrongdoings. Such contributions can be expected, especially from you as an MP, and these certainly deserve considerable protection.”

The Chief Prosecutor also remarked that as far as the accusations in the direction of Corallo are concerned, Van Raak in his contributions mentioned the source and content of the information on which the allegations were based.

“This doesn’t constitute a criminal offense, considering this information, the context in which these articles were written and the objective of these articles,” Nieuwenhuizen stated. He did add that the Dutch law did give Corallo the right to file a complaint about his decision at the Court and to ask the Court to order prosecution in this case.

In an invited comment Van Raak said that people should be able to speak up when there is injustice. “Things that are going wrong in St. Maarten cannot be solved if people are afraid to speak up. I hope that the St. Maarten people no longer allow themselves to be afraid. This is important for the democracy and the country’s future,” he told this newspaper.

Lawyer Spong had warned Van Raak earlier not to use the term mafia boss. Van Raak was not impressed. “I am willing to stop calling Corallo a mafia boss, but I have no idea what else to call him. But, I am glad that the case against former Curaçao Prime Minister Gerrit Schotte sheds more light on Corallo’s practices,” he stated two months ago.

Spong filed a similar formal complaint in April 2015 against the online news site Knipselkrant Curaçao, which was also accused of insult and offence for referring to Corallo as “mafia buddy.” The lawyer took the complaint to the Prosecutor’s Office in Rotterdam after the Public Prosecutor’s Office in Curaçao refused to pursue the complaint filed by the local law offices Sulvaran & Peterson.

The Prosecutor’s Office in Rotterdam also decided not to give follow-up to the complaint. Reasons given were the freedom of press and the fact that the Prosecutor’s Office had far more important cases to deal with. On January 19, Spong withdrew the complaint against the Knipselkrant

Source: The Daily Herald Van Raak not prosecuted for comments on Corallo