CURACAO – The court in Willemstad will judge today whether former finance minister George Jamaloodin ordered the assassination of political leader Helmin Wiels six years ago. This is the first political murder on the Caribbean island.
A former finance minister who uses a hitman to liquidate the leader of a political party and member of parliament. That is what happened in the Caribbean part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands six years ago, according to the Public Prosecution Service. On May 5, 2013, the politician and businessman George Jamaloodin had 54-year-old Helmin Wiels, anti-corruption advocate and founder of the Pueblo Soberano independence party, shot to death on Curaçao’s beach. Because of the organization of the liquidation, the OM demanded 30 years against Jamaloodin in June.
The criminal case has occupied the minds on the Caribbean island for six years. Politician Wiels represented “a significant part of the population,” said prosecutor Gert Rip in his requisitoir. “That is a very serious shock to the legal order.”
According to the judiciary, the gambling mafia on the island is responsible for the first political murder on Curaçao. One of the suspects who have not yet been brought to trial and according to the OM co-principal in this case is Robbie dos Santos, owner of a lottery company that is active in Curaçao and St. Maarten and a half-brother of Jamaloodin. The gambling firm financed the party of Jamaloodin and then Prime Minister Gerrit Schotte, the Movementu Futuro Kòrsou (MFK). Wiels no longer wanted to cooperate with the MFK and, moreover, opposed plans to allow gambling by the phone system SMS. “Helmin Wiels stood in the way of politics and therefore had to disappear,” Rip thinks.
Two people have been convicted of the Wiels murder. The Curacao born who confessed to having shot Wiels for an amount of 50,000 guilders Elvis Kuwas aka ‘Monster’,is serving an irrevocable life sentence. The “murder broker” and the man who paid Elvis ‘Nini’ Fonseca, has also been sentenced to 26 years in prison. Both men are imprisoned in the Netherlands to prevent them from being killed in their cells.
The most important evidence in the criminal case is statements by partially anonymous witnesses and text messaging between henchmen. From January 2013, there was regular text contact between Jamaloodin and Nini Fonseca in Papiamento and in code language.
On April 30, 2013 at 3.28 pm, the murder broker sends the following message: “Brother, When can I see you so I can start working? Brother, I already have my uniforms. “
A day before the murder, Jamaloodin invites Nini Fonseca to his home. “When can you come by so I can tell you?”
The SMS contact stops a few hours before the Wiels murder.
The trial of Jamaloodin was delayed because the former minister fled to neighboring Venezuela in 2017 after the conviction of the executor. It took a year and a half until Venezuela appeared willing to hand over Jamaloodin to the judicial authorities in Curaçao in September 2018.
According to prosecutor Rip – who was lent by the Dutch Public Prosecution Service to the Public Prosecutor of Curaçao in 2013 – the liquidation of Wiels was “the result of a cool and calculated schedule”. It is aggravating for justice that a representative of the people has been murdered. “The democratic process in this country in which all residents, politicians and citizens must feel free to express their opinion and denounce abuse.”
Jamaloodin denied this accusation during the trial. During the criminal case, in which he was also prosecuted for fraud, he admitted of stealing subsidized funds intended for the improvement of a sports field.
In addition to Jamaloodin, prosecutor Rip also prosecuted Gerrit Schotte, the first Prime Minister of Curaçao – which became a country within the kingdom in 2010. Schotte was sentenced to three years in prison in Willemstad in 2016 for bribery, money laundering and forgery of documents during his period as prime minister. He has also been sentenced and imprisoned.
With the prosecution of Jamaloodin, the criminal settlement of the murder of Helmin Wiels is not yet over. During the criminal case, prosecutor Rip said that investigations are still ongoing into possible other clients or intellectual perpetrators.
If Jamaloodin is convicted today, the OM will in
all likelihood in the short term also summon Robbie dos Santos for his
role in the murder case. It is unclear whether prosecutor Rip can still
settle that case. He has been told by the Public Prosecution Service
that he will have to start work again in April 2020 on the national
public prosecutor’s office in Rotterdam.