Suriname court postpones decision on leader's murder trial | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

Current Conditions


Suriname court postpones decision on leader's murder trial

FILE - In this Aug. 12, 2015, file photo, Suriname President Desire Delano Bouterse salutes during a military parade, after being sworn in for his second term, in Paramaribo, Suriname. A two-time coup leader and former dictator accused of executing 15 political opponents in 1982, Bouterse has again moved on Wednesday, June 29, 2016, to prevent authorities in the South American nation from putting him on trial for those 15 deaths. (AP Photo/Ertugrul Kilic, File)
June 30, 2016 - 3:48 PM

PARAMARIBO, Suriname - Suriname's military court on Thursday postponed a final decision on whether President Desi Bouterse will go back on trial for the killings of political opponents when he was a military dictator in 1982.

Judge Cynthia Valstein-Montnor said an order from Bouterse to halt proceedings against him might apply to prosecutors but it did not affect judges on the military court. She said a final decision would be announced Aug. 5.

Earlier this week, Bouterse instructed Suriname's attorney general to halt proceedings against him, invoking a constitutional article that allows the president to issue such orders in the interests of national security.

Hugo Essed, a lawyer for relatives of the 15 victims, said he was "hugely encouraged" by the court's postponement.

"If the judges want to, they can keep going with this trial even if the prosecutor refuses to," Essed said.

But Irvin Kanhai, Bouterse's lawyer, contended that the military court must follow the president's order to halt proceedings.

"The government of Suriname has unanimously given the military court an order. When the prosecutor says he cannot prosecute, there is no trial," Kanhai said.

The military court session followed a June court ruling that invalidated an amnesty law pushed through parliament by Bouterse's supporters after he was elected president. The court ordered the resumption of the trial against him and 24 co-defendants.

Bouterse this week said the trial poses a danger to the internal security of the country, which is struggling through a recession because of the sharp drop in commodity prices.

Bouterse and 24 allies from his time as a military dictator in the 1980s avoided trial until November 2007 on charges stemming from the execution of the 15 prominent political opponents.

The former strongman returned to power in 2010 when he was elected president by parliament. Two years later, lawmakers passed an amnesty law and court proceedings were put on hold, angering human rights activists.

Bouterse, who was re-elected by parliament last year, has accepted what he calls "political responsibility" for the military's killing of the 15 well-known journalists, lawyers and union leaders but said he was not present when the executions took place. Witnesses in the trial have disputed that claim.

News from © The Associated Press, 2016
The Associated Press

  • Popular penticton News
View Site in: Desktop | Mobile