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Curacao Politician Helmin Wiels Shot Dead on The Beach

A prominent politician on the Dutch Caribbean island of Curacao, Helmin Wiels, has been shot dead.

Witnesses said he was killed on a beach by gunmen who fled by car.

Wiels, 54, led the Pueblo Soberano party, which campaigns for independence from the Netherlands.

Local media say it is the first time a politician has been assassinated in Curacao. Prime Minister Daniel Hodge said: “This act was horrendous, terrible, and we are in shock.”

“We are not accustomed to these things on the island,” the prime minister said.
A motive for the killing remains unclear, but the Curacao government said Wiels had received threats in the past.

Justice Minister Nelson Navarro said Wiels had a security guard assigned to him after receiving the threats.

He also promised to increase security for all of Curacao’s elected officials.

Friends of Wiels said he sent his bodyguard home earlier in the day and was enjoying a beer on Marie Pompoen beach, when two gunmen approached him and fired five shots.

No one else was hurt in the attack.

A spokesman for the Pueblo Soberano party said they suspected organized crime was behind the killing because of his work combating corruption.

The Pueblo Soberano party gained 22.6 percent of the votes in the 2012 election and hold fives of the 21 seats in Curacao’s parliament.

Wiels was well known as a fervent supporter of cutting Curacao’s ties with the Netherlands.

Curacao is a former Dutch colony and now forms an independent country within the kingdom of the Netherlands, but it still relies on the Netherlands for defense and foreign policy.

Wiels had his own radio show and often discussed controversial issues affecting the island of about 150,000 people.

On Friday, Wiels had denounced alleged abuses committed by Curacao telecommunication company UTS  during an interview with news site Versgeperst.com.

He accused UTS of involvement in the illegal sale of lottery numbers.

The Curacao government said the Netherlands offered to help with the investigation into the murder.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte called the attack a “cowardly deed”.

“Curacao has lost a driven politician who fought for his ideals and loved his country,” Rutte said.

Source: BBC

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