Court ruling scheduled for January 30: Dutch state refuses Corallo rectification

POSTED: 01/17/13 12:19 PM

St. Maarten / THE HAGUE – Atlantis World Group and B Plus Giocolegale owner Francesco Corallo sued the Dutch state yesterday in the Hague in an attempt to force a rectification for allegations that he has links with the Sicilian mafia. Corallo was not present at the court yesterday, according to the Curacao-based newspaper Amigoe “because of business-obligations in St. Maarten.” Attorneys for the state see no reason to rectify and argue that Corallo has to address this issue with the media that reported about these alleged links and to the Italian government – the alleged source of the reports. The court rules on the case on January 30.

On May 26, 2011 the Dutch embassy in Rome sent a letter to former Prime Minister Gerrit Schotte in Curacao. Schotte wanted to appoint Corallo in an unspecified important function and he had asked the authorities in Italy – behind the back of the Dutch foreign ministry – for proof of good behavior. In October the letter surfaced in the media.

In the letter, the Dutch ambassador informs the government in Curacao that information from Italy shows that Corallo was involved in the international drugs trade, that he is an important player in the Sicilian mafia and that he uses his operations in St. Maarten to launder money.

Corallo’s attorneys Raymond de Mooij and Arthur de Groot told the court yesterday that this information is incorrect. They pointed to a letter from the Italian Justice Ministry that suggests that Corallo is clean as a whistle.

De Groot confirmed to the court that Italian authorities had issued an arrest warrant for Corallo, followed by a wanted-posting on the Interpol website, but that this was an error that has in the meantime been corrected. The attorney also pointed to the large amount of concessions Corallo’s company B Plus Giocolegale holds for operating video gambling terminals in Italy, rectifications in Italian media about alleged criminal activities and a statement in a book by mafia prosecutor Pietro Grasso that Corallo does not have links with the mafia. The attorneys also said that Corallo is not on the run, but that he is in St. Maarten.

The attorneys question the way the information about Corallo’s alleged mafia connections had been established by the Dutch embassy in Rome. They said that the information stems from a conversation between a low-level associate at the Italian Justice Ministry and an associate of the embassy. They contest the official status of the letter that contains the allegations.

Corallo demands that the state publishes a rectification in the Telegraaf and that it sends a letter to the government in Curacao rectifying the information as well. Attorney De Groot also said that the letter from the embassy to Schotte should have been classified.

Wenneke Wisman, the attorney for the state said that the Dutch government had no reason to doubt the information in the letter of May 26, 2011, because it stems from the Italian police and the Italian intelligence service. “I have not heard arguments that these statements have not been made. It was a high-level meeting by invitation from the cabinet of the Italian Home Affairs Ministry.”

Wisman pointed out that the allegations are not at odds with later letters that only state that there is no incriminating information known at the ministries of Home Affairs and Foreign Affairs in Italy. She said that it is not customary to check information that is provided by another country and called the case a typical example of shooting the messenger.

De Groot and De Mooij said after the court hearing that they had not demanded a rectification from the media to avoid media-attention. They only took the state to court because talks about a mutual agreement did not yield any results.

The court showed some consideration for Corallo’s position, because the casino boss has never been sentenced for any crime.

 

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