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Regional leaders shun developments in Suriname

Surimane's Presiedent, Desi Bouterse Surimane's Presiedent, Desi Bouterse
GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Jul 11, CMC – Caribbean Community (CARICOM) leaders have stayed away from commenting on the decision by Suriname President Desi Bouterse to block the resumption of the so-called “December murders” trial by instructing the public prosecutor’s office to halt the prosecution of all the suspects, including himself,  in the case. The Military Court was scheduled to resume hearings last Thursday in the trial of Bouterse and 23 other people accused of murdering 15 people on December 8, 1982. Bouterse said that government was invoking article 148 of the Constitution that states that “government decides the general prosecution policy” and that “in the interest of matters of state security government may give the attorney general instructions regarding prosecution”. The communique issued following the CARICOM summit here last week, indicated that the regional leaders “were briefed about the recent political developments in Suriname”  by Bouterse in relation to a ruling by the Military Court in June. The Military Court had ruled that the Amnesty Law, which the Parliament passed in 2012 and was criticized by human rights groups as an attempt to shield Bouterse, was unlawful. The trial began in 2007 and, after many adjournments, was set to resume in July with the prosecution indicating the sentence it wanted for the 24 accused men, including Bouterse , who was then the military ruler of the Dutch-speaking Caribbean Community country. But Bouterse rejected the Military Court ruling and said that it had created a “constitutional crisis” which had placed the state security in peril. He also claimed that the ruling had been orchestrated by unnamed “external” forces” who were aiming to create chaos in the country. In the communique, the regional leaders said that they were “informed about the decision of the Government of Suriname to apply Article 148 of the Constitution of Suriname, whereby the Public Prosecutor was ordered to cease the legal procedure in a particular case so as to allow the constitutionally legal mechanisms to fulfil their tasks in an orderly manner. “Heads of Government noted the information provided by the President of Suriname and expressed their view that the matter was an internal one,” the communique noted.

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