The Surinamese court-martial has again sentenced former president Desi Bouterse to twenty years in prison for his involvement in the December murders of 1982. However, the 75-year-old Bouterse himself was not present at the verdict. Instead, according to Surinamese media, he had reported sick.
Bouterse had appealed against his conviction in November 2019. He was then also sentenced to 20 years in prison. However, according to the prosecutor, the Public Prosecution Service maintained that claim on appeal: there were no new facts.
Bouterse was convicted in connection with his part in the murder of fifteen political opponents in December 1982. However, because he was never present during that trial, he was sentenced in absentia.
Bouterse was the democratically elected president of Suriname in the period 2010 – 2020, but in the 1980s, he headed a military regime. On December 8, 1982, fifteen opponents of the military rulers were murdered in Fort Zeelandia in Paramaribo.
Bouterse remained free after his conviction in 2019. He was allowed to await the handling of his so-called resistance case in freedom. Whether Bouterse will still be arrested now that the court-martial is sticking to his conviction was not discussed during the session today. According to the Surinamese news site, today, no arrest has been ordered by the Court Martial.
The conviction is not yet final. Bouterse’s lawyer has fourteen days to appeal and has already said that he will do so. The military prosecutor, who acts as prosecutor, can also object to the conviction in the next two weeks.