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Wednesday, 30 January 2013 09:46

THE HAGUE — The Dutch government doesn’t need to rectify its statements on the Italian-Dutch businessman Francesco Corallo. The judge in The Hague concluded that the Dutch Ministries of the Interior and of Foreign Affairs hadn’t acted wrongfully.By our correspondent

 

Otti Thomas

 

The case regarded a letter from May 26th 2011 from the Dutch embassy in Italy to the then minister-president of Curaçao, Gerrit Schotte, who had requested a certificate of good character because he considered offering Corallo a position. Instead of this certificate Schotte was informed that Corallo was involved with international drug trafficking, the Sicilian mafia, and money laundering on St. Maarten. The information was from the Italian police and intelligence service.

According to Corallo’s lawyers, the information was incorrect and the Netherlands hadn’t verified the information. Moreover, according to them, the embassy should have been more careful in conveying the information, considering the letter had appeared in the media after more than one and a half year. They also queried the way the information had been given in first instance, namely in a conversation between a certain Mrs. Mazzuca from the Italian Ministry of Justice and the acting delegate Mrs. Kopmels from the Dutch embassy in Rome. Both were supposedly not authorized, according to the lawyers.

The judge disagreed with the latter proposition and concurred with the arguments from lawyer Wemmeke Wisman, who represented the Dutch government. “After all, Kopmels was ad interim delegate and there is nothing to doubt the authorities of Mazucca in May 2011”, according to the judge, who also concluded that the Dutch government is not responsible for the contents of the letter. “The only role of the Dutch government was to pass the information from Italy on to premier Schotte.” Therefore, it was not necessary to check if the information was correct. According to the judge, it is not important if the contents of the letter of May 26th contradicted the judgment of other authorities or persons on Corallo.

 

Carefulness

As regards the carefulness, the judge ruled that it was sufficient. “After all, in principle the Dutch government may assume that a letter forwarded per diplomatic mail to the premier of a country within the Kingdom will remain in confidential hands”, according to the judge. Nothing shows that the Dutch government is responsible for the letters forwarded per diplomatic mail and e-mail to Schotte, the Directorate of Foreign Relations and the Directorate of Western Hemisphere being leaked to the media.

Corallo’s lawyers also argued that the Dutch government had maintained the incorrect image of Corallo by a phrase in a written reply to questions from the Lower Chamber in October 2011.

 

Corallo loses summary proceedings

In that letter the then Minister of the Interior, Liesbeth Spies, wrote that the Italian government had reasons not to give the certificate of good character in May 2011 but that a second letter in August revealed documents from the Italian Ministries of the Interior and of Foreign Affairs contained no information on Corallo. With this the judge referred to the parliamentary immunity that is established in the Constitution. Although this immunity doesn’t apply for the Dutch government, liability would still lead to an ‘undermining of the parliamentary immunity’, according to the judge.

 

“The conclusion is there is no reasonable case that the Dutch government acted wrongfully against Corallo. Consequently there is no reason to approve the rectification demanded by Corallo. (…) The only rectification that could be requested from the Dutch government is the message that the latter is not responsible for the contents of the information given”, said the judge, but this request was not made in summary proceedings. “Moreover, the disadvantage for Corallo is due to the nature of the message, the leaking out of the letter and the distortion by the media”, the judge concluded in his verdict.