TSXM – WILLEMSTAD – Politicians in Curacao knew about the plan to assassinate Pueblo Soberano-leader Helmin Wiels. Tom-Jan Meeus reports in NRC Handelsblad that the prosecutor’s office in Curacao has “strong indications” that this is the case.
Sources confirmed the story to Meeus, who travelled to the Antilles last week in the press delegation with Prime Minister Mark Rutte. The sources declined to name the politicians and emphasized that the prior knowledge does not mean that these politicians commissioned the murder.
The sources told Meeus that the prior knowledge is illustrative for “the close relation” between politicians and criminals in the gambling industry, real estate and the harbor on the island. Several of these entrepreneurs are known to finance political parties, NRC reported.
The leftwing-populist Wiels, leader of Curacao’s largest party Pueblo Soberano, was assassinates in May on the beach at Marie Pompoen in Willemstad.
According to NRC, the investigation into the killing pays special attention to the rift between Wiels and Gerrit Schotte, who was the prime Minister in a coalition with Wiels until September of last year.
“Schotte, now leader of the opposition, has been discredited by relations with a member of an infamous Italian mafia-family and a gambling king from Sint Maarten who is suspected of money laundering,” the newspaper wrote with a thinly veiled reference to Atlantis-owner Francesco Corallo and Robbie’s Lottery owner Robbie dos Santos (who is, by the way, not from St. Maarten but from Curacao).
Dos Santos has to appear in court this fall for tax evasion and laundering gambling revenue. “The draft summons is ready,” someone close to the investigation told NRC. Prosecutor Leomar Angela leads the investigation.
According to NRC, the name of Dos Santos has been linked before to the Wiels-assassination, but he has denied any involvement. According to “judicial sources”, Dos Santos was the man who set up the contact between Schotte and the Italian mafia.
Sources expect that the Dos Santos-trial will cause quite a stir in Curacao, because of details about Dos Santos’ relation with politicians.
In the meantime investigators have a complete picture of the suspects that executed the Wiels-assassination. They are members of the NLS-street gang. NLS stands for No Limit soldiers; they are from the Koraal Specht district. NS also uses the names The True Unlimited and The Red Untouchables, according to NRC.
The gang occupies itself with assassinations for the highest bidders; they are also active in the Netherlands, especially in Zoetermeer. This is where police earlier arrested a man nicknamed Petru as a suspect in the murder of a man nicknamed Bolle who is in turn suspected of direct involvement in the Wiels-killing. He reportedly rented the car the killers used to flee the crime scene.
Other unnamed sources told NRC that tensions within the street gang have risen over the Wiels-killing. The leaders are outraged because they were not informed beforehand. Another beef is that the executioners received only a small part of the money the principals paid for the murder.
Detectives did house searches at five different addresses last week in the vicinity of Petru’s house. The results were reportedly disappointing. This week the judge of instruction decided about Petru’s prolonged detention.
NLS and competing gangs caused an increase in the number of liquidations during the past couple of years. The low point was 2011 when between fifteen and twenty people from the criminal scene were murdered.
Detectives told NRC “crime and the governments of Curacao and Sint Maarten have become interwoven,” adding that Dos Santos lives in St. Maarten. “His business relation in the Italian mafia, who also has contacts with the largest party in St. Maarten, is the same man with whom Schotte maintains contacts,” the paper wrote, careful to omit the name of Francesco Corallo and the United People’s party.
“Under Schotte an employee of the mafia-boss was nominated as supervisor for the Central Bank of Curacao. The nomination was later withdrawn,” the NRC-story concludes.
The newspaper refers in this slot remark to Rudolf Baetsen, the Chief Financial Officer at the Atlantis World Group. He was nominated as a candidate to the board of the Central Bank by Schotte, but when this caused too much controversy, Baetsen personally withdrew his candidacy.