Sun | May 26, 2024

Prosecution in Suriname wants ex-president Desi Bouterse jailed for 1982 killings

Published:Tuesday | January 31, 2023 | 1:34 PM
Former Suriname president Desi Bouterse speaking with reporters. - Contributed photo.

PARAMARIBO, Suriname, CMC – The Public Prosecution Service in Suriname Tuesday demanded that former president and military strongman, Desi Bouterse, be jailed for 20 years for complicity in the murder of 15 men on December 8, 1982.

Acting Attorney General, Carmen Rasam, said that Bouterse must be held responsible for the murders and that enough evidence had been provided during the trial.

Bouterse had been sentenced to 20 years in jail for his involvement in the murders of political opponents by his then-military government.

In August 2021, the Court Martial of Suriname upheld the 2019 military court ruling of a 20-year jail term on Bouterse following a trial that had been going on for several years.

In 2017, Bouterse along with 23 co-defendants had appeared in the Military Court after the Court of Justice had earlier rejected a motion to stop the trial.

The former military officers and civilians had been charged with the December 8, 1982, murders of the 15 men that included journalists, military officers, union leaders, lawyers, businessmen, and university lecturers.

The prosecution had alleged that the men were arrested on the nights of December 7 and 8 and transferred to Fort Zeelandia, the then headquarters of the Surinamese National Army.

They said the men were tortured and summarily executed.

Earlier this month, attorney Irvin Kanhai, who is also representing Iwan Dijksteel, Stephanus Dendoe, Benny Brondenstein and Ernst Geffery, challenged the objectivity of the military judge, Colonel Dennis Kamperveen, claiming that one of the victims, André Kamperveen and the judge, have a common grandfather.

The men are challenging their 10-year jail term.

But, the Public Prosecution Service argued that it had no need to hear witnesses during the appeal process, reiterating its call for Bouterse, 77, who led Suriname during the 1980s as head of a military government and de facto leader, to be arrested and given his unconditional prison sentence.

Bouterse took office as president in 2010, following a democratic election and was elected for another term in 2015.

During the trial by the court-martial, the military judge said that Bouterse had acted as God and decided about life and death.

But, Bouterse had argued during the trial that he was not present at the fort when the men were shot.

Before the start of the hearing on Tuesday, Bouterse said that he is not concerned about the matter, telling reporters he had “other things” on his mind that is giving him a headache, including the current situation in the country.

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