Tears at the conclusion of Gerrit Schotte’s Babel-trialPOSTED: 02/22/16 12:01 PM
Gerrit Schotte speaks with the media after the court case while his girlfriend Cicely van der Dijs stands next to him. Photo Caribisch Netwerk / Anneke Polak
Court pronounces ruling on March 11
WILLEMSTAD – Former Prime Minister Gerrit Schotte and his girlfriend Cicely van der Dijs could not control their tears when they had the last word during the handling of the Babel-case at the courthouse in Curacao.
The prosecution has demanded 3 years of imprisonment against Schotte for accepting bribes from casino owner Francesco Corallo. Van der Dijs is facing 18 months, with 9 months suspended for her role in forging invoices that were made to channel the money from Corallo to her husband. The court pronounces the verdicts on March 11.
The prosecution established in court that Corallo expected far-reaching influence in politics in curacao in exchange for money. “Schotte needed permission from Corallo to appoint ministers, he was not allowed to do that on his own,” the prosecutor said. “If he did not do what Corallo said, he had to pay the money back.”
It is the first court case in Curacao that shows the influence of the gaming industry on politics.
The prosecution also wants to take away Schotte’s passive voting rights for five years.
In his last word, Schotte said Friday that the past years have been burdensome for him and his girlfriend. He spoke of character assassination, worse than his own arrest he considered the arrest of Van der Dijs, the mother of the couple’s 2-year old daughter. A photo appeared in a local newspaper showing her in prison garb. “That cut through my soul,” Schotte said with tears in his eyes. “Don’t put a mother in jail. A small child must not become the victim of this situation.”
Van der Dijs spoke of the profound trauma the prosecution has left her with. “With every sound I hear, I am looking out of the window to see if there are maybe again police officers in front of the door for another house search,” she said.
The court presented plenty of evidence for corruption, forgery and money laundering against Schotte, who was facing the judge in a finely cut dark suit. The prosecution has described Schotte as a puppet and a corrupt politician.
Schotte’s attorney Eldon Sulvaran speaks of a political trial of the establishment. He said that the prosecutor’s office had put the community’s trust in this institution to shame.
Yesterday, Sulvaran went after Knipselkrant Curacao, a blog “were Dutch possible racists with fake names” place untrue stories. The site was the first to report about Schotte’s suspect transactions. “This site is the real underworld of Curacao,” Sulvaran said. “It is about time to expose these people.”