Police in Suriname have issued an alert for former president Desi Bouterse who was in December sentenced to 20 years in jail for his role in 15 political killings in 1982.
Bouterse was supposed to report to jail last Friday but failed to do so. His wife Ingrid Bouterse-Waldring said shortly after the verdict that her husband would not report to jail now or in the future.
His whereabouts are unknown and the police alert urges people with information to come forward. A similar call-out has been issued for Iwan Dijksteel, Bouterse’s bodyguard who was also jailed in absentia for his role in the killings.
Bouterse, 78, has always denied any involvement in the 15 deaths, which have become known as the December Murders. He was sentenced to 20 years in jail at two previous trials in 2019 and 2021.
Suriname became a Dutch colony in the 17th century and gained full independence in 1975.
Bouterse grabbed power in Suriname in the so-called ‘sergeants’ coup’ of 1980. Two years later, after several attempted counter coups, 15 of his political opponents, including journalists, lawyers and academics, were rounded up and murdered in the infamous December killings. This effectively established a dictatorship under Bouterse with a puppet government.
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