Desi Bouterse: Suriname Court Seeks to Uphold Ex-President’s Sentence for Political Murders

Image source, AFP A Suriname court is expected to rule on whether to uphold Desi Bouterse's 20-year sentence later this year
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Prosecutors in Suriname have asked the High Court of Justice to uphold a 20-year jail sentence given to former President Desi Bouterse.

The 74-year-old was convicted in 2019 of ordering the extrajudicial execution of 15 political opponents four decades ago.

Bouterse has since been appealing against this ruling and cannot be arrested until the process ends.

The court is expected to rule on the sentence later this year.

Bouterse has denied involvement in the executions. He insists the victims – who included lawyers, union leaders and journalists – were shot while trying to escape a colonial-era fortress in Paramaribo, the capital of the South American country.

An appeal hearing for the former leader is currently under way and is expected to last until the end of March, after which time the High Court will announce its decision on the sentence.

Bouterse recently admitted in court that he had heard gunshots on the day the prisoners were killed but insisted he did not order their execution.

He has instead blamed his deputy, Paul Bhagwandas – who died in 1996 – for the deaths. But witnesses testified that Bouterse was present when the victims were killed.

The killings took place in 1982 – seven years after Suriname’s independence from the Netherlands. Lawyers for Bouterse have previously argued that the victims were collaborating with the Dutch, France and the US to depose him.

Bouterse led Suriname during the 1980s as head of a military government and de facto leader.

He took office as president in 2010, following a democratic election and was elected for another term in 2015 He remained in the post until 2020, when his party lost power.

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