Crime & Justice

Suriname ex-president Bouterse vanishes after failing to show up in prison

San Juan, Jan 12 (EFE).- Desi Bouterse, Suriname’s ex-president, sentenced to 20 years in prison for his involvement in the killing of 15 opponents in 1982, has vanished after failing to appear in prison despite an order from prosecutors, his wife said Friday.

Bouterse’s wife, Ingrid Bouterse-Waldring, told journalists outside her home on Friday: “He will not turn himself in.”

She also said her husband had disappeared and that she hadn’t seen him for days and didn’t know his whereabouts, adding, “He’s not going to jail!”

After being found guilty in a historic 16-year trial, Bouterse was sentenced on Dec. 20. He was previously sentenced in 2019 and 2021, but appealed both decisions.

On Monday, his new lawyers filed an appeal, citing an amnesty law that Bouterse unsuccessfully tried to pass more than a decade ago. But Suriname’s attorney general rejected the appeal on Tuesday.

On Wednesday, authorities ordered Bouterse and three others convicted in the case to report to various prisons by Friday. Only the other three did.

Bouterse’s wife also lashed out at the judicial authorities for the conviction, claiming it was politically motivated and pushed by the Dutch government, as Suriname was a colony of the Netherlands until its independence in 1975.

The NDP, Bouterse’s party, said in a statement that it disagreed with the “political verdict” and that its supporters must focus on doing everything possible to win the elections on May 25, 2025.

“The NDP is a militant and revolutionary party that stands in solidarity with the leader of the revolution,” the party said, referring to Bouterse.

The other three accused, all former soldiers under the orders of former President Bouterse at the time of the massacre, Ernst Gefferie, Benny Brondenstein, and Stephanus Dendoe, all sentenced to 15 years in prison, went to the Santo Boma Central Prison on Friday.

The convicts, including Bouterse, declined to petition for clemency, but asked that the sentences be suspended, to which the Public Ministry responded negatively.

Bouterse headed a military government in the 1980s.

The murdered opponents were arrested on Dec. 7 and 8, 1982, and taken to the then headquarters of the Surinam National Army, where they were tortured and summarily executed.

Among the victims were journalists, soldiers, union leaders, lawyers, businessmen, and university professors.EFE es-mv/mcd/ics

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