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Foster son of Suriname president arrested in robbery investigation

Romano Meriba

By Ivan Cairo

PARAMARIBO, Suriname; Romano Meriba (31), fosterson of Suriname’s president Desi Bouterse, has been arrested Friday in Paramaribo after he reported himself to a police station.  The Public Relations Department of the Suriname Police Force released a statement confirming the arrest. According the police Meriba has been arrested by officers of the Capital Offenses’ Department, the police unit which investigate serious crime including armed robbery, murder, drug trafficking and money laundering.

“Romano is believed to be a member of the gang that was involved in a robbery in Paramaribo-North”, said the Suriname police. The release further stated that Meriba became a suspect after preliminary investigations revealed that his vehicle was involved in the said armed robbery. During a shoot-out with police units including the SWAT Team, two robbers were shot death Monday, while three others were seriously wounded.  Two police officers also sustained non-life threatening injuries.  Meanwhile police has arrested three other suspects including local businessman Rohitas S. During a search at a home in the Zorg en Hoop neighborhood detectives found a car belonging to the deceased suspected robber Melvin Tob. Police also seized several fire arms and a motorbike during the businessman’s arrest.

Mere hours after the shoot-out Monday Meriba appeared on radio answering questions whether his car was being used by the bandits during the robbery as one of the getaway cars. Claiming his innocence Meriba disclosed that he lend his vehicle last week to a friend to move items to a new apartment since the said friend was relocating to a new address. Noting privacy reasons Meriba said he wouldn’t disclose where he was during the robbery. He argued however that he will assist police during the investigations.

In 2005 Meriba was convicted to serve a 15 year prison term for robbery and killing of a Chinese shop owner in 2002. He shot the businessman point blank through the rear window after the man had jumped on the trunk of the getaway car. Meriba was also sentenced for throwing a hand grenade in 2002 to the residence Ruud Treffers, of the then Dutch ambassador in Suriname.

After Bouterse became president in August 2010 he granted pardon to Meriba in December 2011. Bouterse at that time defended his decision after protests from the opposition, saying that the Court of Justice had already sanctioned the early release in March 2011. In March 2012 Meriba was arrested in Paramaribo accused of assaulting and beating up a police officer and a patron in a night club. Meriba remained for a short period in lock ups since the complaints were retracted the following day by his alleged victims.