Opinion: Politician tears of the crocodile variety

POSTED: 02/22/16 12:11 PM

To see former Prime Minister Gerrit Schotte close to tears at the end of his trial in Curacao seems completely out of character. But there it is: even the outwardly toughest nut will crack sooner or later.

Schotte’s tears are of course of the crocodile variety. To say at the end of proceedings where he has steadfastly refused to answer any question something like, “Punish me, but not my wife,” is coming a bit late in the day.

Why did Schotte not won up to what he has been accused off? After all, his “punish me” remark is the clearest indication so far that Schotte is at least guilty of something. If he wanted to protect his partner Cicely van der Dijs so badly, he could have done a better job when the opportunity was there.

Okay, the court still has to rule on the case, and until then we are formally supposed to stick to the presumption of innocence. That is a bit tough, given the overwhelming amount of evidence the prosecution has presented in court.

Turning the trial into a political spectacle rife of conspiracy theories has been the strategy of choice for the defense. It is what attorneys do when the evidence is staring them in the face and when they do not have too much to offer to discredit it.

The Schotte-trial – no matter what the outcome will be – marks another turn in Curacao’s political history. Like in St. Maarten, where former Public Health Minister Maria Buncamper-Molanus still has to stand trial for membership of a criminal organization (and a host of other charges), where former MPs Patrick Illidge and Louie Laveist has been sentenced and where former Finance Minister Hiro Shigemoto has been tried and found not guilty, Curacaolenean politicians like Schotte are now finding out the hard way that they cannot get away with anything and everything, and that their actions, sooner or later, will have consequences.

All this Schotte should have thought about before he got himself involved with what looks at best like shady business. Repentance always comes too late and the Schotte-Van der Dijs trial is a fine example to support this notion. The question remains – will politicians ever learn?

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