Corallo’s release seems near – but not yet



Source Today Newspaper

Peppie Sulvaran is seen entering the Courthouse. Attorney Sulvaran is defending Corallo extradition. File Photo

GREAT BAY – Employees and friends of Francesco Corallo came out in droves yesterday afternoon at the courthouse where the beleaguered casino owner hoped to get a favorable ruling on his request to suspend his extradition detention. But after an earlier postponement, the court also did not arrive at an immediate decision yesterday either, though the perspectives for Corallo seem to be positive.

Roy Moes, Corallo’s corporate attorney said after the almost two-hour long closed door court session that the court will take a decision “as soon as possible but before June 20.” Moes added that the court had asked about the possibility of electronic supervision in St. Maarten. “And that is possible,” Moes said.

At the court hearing on May 16, the prosecutor’s office, though it opposes Corallo’s conditional release, nevertheless laid out its conditions in case the court rules otherwise. If the court decides to suspend Corallo’s detention – currently 177 days – the prosecutor’s office wants $3 million bail, to be paid through a bank account, not in cash, mandatory weekly reporting to the police station, surrendering all IDs and passports (though Corallo said he only has one Dutch passport), residing on a fixed address on the Dutch side of St. Maarten and a ban on leaving the island, including a ban on visiting the French side.

Corallo’s supporters gathered outside the courthouse around 2 p.m., sporting banners with texts like Free Francesco, No more 6 for 9 for Francesco, Respect human rights and 176 days in a police cell. They chanted Free Francesco Now repeatedly. Halfway through the long wait, Domino’s Pizza delivered pizza for the crowd. Among the supporters were Corallo’s wife, his brother and Andy Wescot. Etienne ‘ Toochi’ Meyers also briefly showed up.

When Corallo finally came out of the side entrance of the courthouse, the crowd went wild. After police officers quickly guided the casino owner into a waiting police van, Corallo’s supporters hammered the windows of the bus and cheering him on.

The postponement of the ruling is a new disappointment for Corallo’s defense team that had hoped for an immediate decision yesterday.

Corallo was arrested on December 13 of last year at the request of Italian justice authorities who want to charge him with tax evasion, bribery of several politicians and large-scale money laundering. Later it appeared from the extradition request that the authorities are unable to accuse Corallo directly of money laundering.

After the court hearing on May 16, the court initially wanted to rule on the request to suspend his detention a week later, on May 23. That decision was postponed to June 6 (yesterday) and now the court will take at most another fortnight to present its decision.

A date for the extradition hearing still has not been set.

Attorney Eldon ‘Peppie’ Sulvaran said at the court hearing on May 16 that Corallo’s company Global Starnet operates in full compliance with the law.

In the only interview that Corallo gave during his detention – to this newspaper – he said: “I want justice to be brief and fair. Nobody understands why I am here. And one day I will be acquitted.”