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Former Suriname President’s 20-year jail sentence for murder confirmed

Last Updated on Monday, 30 August 2021, 9:02 by Denis Chabrol

Suriname’s President, Desi Bouterse addressing the opening of the 37th Caricom Summit that was held in Guyana from July 4 to 6, 2016.

Suriname’s former President Desi Bouterse’s 20-year jail sentence for the murder of 15 persons while he had been a military ruler in 1982 was Monday morning confirmed.

Starnieuws reports that Bouterse was not in court, saying he was sick and no arrest has been ordered.

The session lasted a very short time. No new facts have emerged, the Court Martial concluded.

Bouterse had opposed the default judgment.

Military auditor Manro Danning had demanded 20 years in prison in the resistance case, just like in the absentee case. After delivering his indictment at the previous hearing, Counsel Irvin Kanhai made his plea.

This was followed by a reply and a rejoinder and then Bouterse’s last word.

The court martial then adjourned the case until Monday for ruling. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison by the same panel of judges – Valstein-Montnor, Suzanne Chu and Rewita Chaterpal – on November 29, 2019 .

But, at that time, he had been in China on an official visit. He took the opportunity of Suriname’s law to challenge the decision at that stage once he had been absent from the court.

Bouterse, main suspect of the so-called December Murders, was on trial for murder and co-perpetration of  the murder of 15 critics of his then regime on 8 December 1982.

At his command, sixteen men had been arrested on the night of 7 to 8 December that year and transferred to Fort Zeelandia, then the headquarters of the Surinamese National Army.

Fifteen of those men had been tortured that night and summarily executed. According to the then military government, they had conspired to overthrow the incumbent government by force. Bouterse became president of Suriname through democratic elections in May 2010 and won re-election in May 2015.  He lost power in the 2020 general elections to the Chandrikapersad Santokhi-led coalition.