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Suriname brothers considering compensation claim against Belgium

Three brothers from Suriname, who have been convicted in Belgium on charges of human trafficking, say they are considering a claim for damages against the European country claiming that their business interests have been seriously affected by their arrest and trial.

Director of Exann Travel Agency, Arthur Naarendorp, 59, and his brothers Iwan and Rinaldo say a false declaration has been made against them after a broken real estate transaction.

They claim that in addition to their direct interests being harmed, the company’s investors would have been harmed by the lawsuit and that a number of potential investment deals with the Surinamese government did not materialize.

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“Given the elements contained in the judgment, the company Exann, team members and one of the investors, Caribbean WTP LLC, may be preparing to file a claim of millions of Euros and dollars,” said Arthur Naarendorp.

“I will appeal because I do not want to have a criminal record for something I am not guilty of,” said the entrepreneur, who could be released in a few months after serving a third of the sentence.

Naarendorp said for unknown reasons, the file containing the false declaration was not used as a defense by the lawyers.

He said he is convinced that with the use of evidence from the ‘false file’ the judge could have sued the Public Prosecution Service for perjury, thereby enabling the verdict to be handed down in favor of the suspects.

Naarendorp says he will publicize the appeal through the media in Belgium, because he strongly believes the manner in which the criminal case was handled has to do with the fact that the suspects are foreigners.

“We will strengthen the defense with other lawyers from the Netherlands and Belgium who are specialized in criminal law and human rights. We will also approach the Surinamese and Dutch embassies in Belgium with the request to bring this matter to the attention of the Minister of Justice.”

He said also that Exann Travel and Exann Airlines had entered into a partnership with Caribbean WTP to invest in Suriname and that talks had already been held with officials of the previous government, including then-ambassador Ricardo Panka and the board of state-owned Sail. Caribbean WTP will support the claim against Belgium as an injured party.

Naarendorp is reported to have submitted a request to Panka in 2017 regarding the possibility of investing nearly US$300 million in Suriname for a power plant near the waste dump in Ornamibo.

However, due to the change of government in 2020, the plan had been to be re- negotiated with the current government in February 2021.

But Naarendorp and the co-defendants were taken into custody on January 28,2021 on charges of human trafficking through their travel agency and were unable to submit the investment plans to the government.

The appeal against the conviction must be lodged in September or October.

CMC/

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