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SURINAME | President Desi Bouterse gets 20 years in jail for murder

Featured Suriname's President Desi Bouterse attends a meeting with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (not pictured) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China | Photo: Reuters Suriname's President Desi Bouterse attends a meeting with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (not pictured) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China | Photo: Reuters
Suriname's opposition political parties have demanded President Desi Bouterse's immediate resignation after a military tribunal sentenced the head of state for 20 years in prison due to killings during a military Junta in the 1980s.

According to the ruling, Bouterse is implicated in the murder of 15 political leaders opposed to the military junta that he established in 1982, after a coup d'etat.

Bouterse, 74, is currently on an official visit in China and will have two weeks to appeal against the conviction. He will return to Suriname via  Cuba where he will strengthen trade relations.

He urged the population to remain calm and indicated that he has taken note of the court's ruling.  

“Important to find the truth. Survivors have an answer after 37 years. The trial must be respected,” the Netherlands Foreign Minister Stef Blok said.

For its part, the leader of the opposition Alternative Democratic Party, Angelic del Castillo said that the resignation of the president should be done "in the interest of the dignity of the office and of our nation."

Bouterse led a military junta in Suriname in 1980 after the "Sergeants' Coup," which overthrew the government of Henck Arron. He became president of the country in 2010 and was re-elected for another term in 2015.

After the coup, the country experienced a resurgence in labor rights and authority of union leaders.

The president has previously denied the allegations.

He claimed 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.

The court ruled that the president had overseen an operation which involved soldiers under his command kidnapping 16 government critics, including lawyers, journalists and university professors.

Only one of the detainees - a union leader - survived the killings and was able to testify against Bouterse.

  • Countries: Suriname

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