WILLEMSTAD, Curaçao, (Mar 11 2016) – Former prime minister of Curacao Gerrit Schotte was found guilty of bribery and ordered to serve three years in prison, a court ruled on Friday. It is equal to the demand made by the prosecutor handling the case.
Schotte was also told he was banned from holding elected office for a period of five years. The court ruling deemed that he had abused his government office in the money laundering and forgery scam.
He was accused of taking money from Sint Maarten casino owner Francesco Corallo to legislate in Corallo’s favor. The casino boss lives on Curacao and is reportedly connected to Italian organized crime. Schotte was arrested in May 2014 at a television station in Willemstad on the island. It was alleged that Corallo funneled money to Schotte’s political party, MFK, through business bank accounts accessible by Cicely van der Dijs, Schotte’s girlfriend and co-defendant.
Van der Dijs was also found guilty on Friday, and sentenced to an 18-month term, of which nine months were conditionally suspended. This was also equal to the prosecutor’s demand.
Earlier this year, Schotte accused the Netherlands of spending millions pursuing a legal case in order to influence the next government of Curacao. By banning Schotte from elected office, he will not be allowed to run for leadership of the MFK political party he founded in 2010.
Schotte served as prime minister from 2010 to 2012. His home was raided in December 2013, seven months after his former coalition partner Helmin Wiels was found gunned down.