PARAMARIBO, Suriname, Thursday June 29, 2017 – Suriname’s military prosecutor Roy Elgin is proposing a tough prison sentence for President Desi Bouterse for his alleged role in the killing of 15 of his political opponents back in December 1982.
Elgin believes the former army leader should be jailed for 20 years.
Bouterse is accused of being responsible for the December 8, 1982 murders at Fort Zeelandia in the capital, Paramaribo, that served as the headquarters of the then military leadership.
Bouterse has claimed political responsibility for the murders since he was head of the military government at the time of the massacre, but has denied any personal involvement in the killings.
He has charged that the trial is politically motivated and has previously proposed the establishment of a special commission to determine the truth behind the so-called “December Murders”. Several attempts by President Bouterse to have the case dismissed have failed.
During yesterday’s hearing, Eglin told the Military Court that Bouterse was behind the killings and had been in Fort Zeelandia when they were committed.
“The murders were planned properly and there was a script. It was premeditated,” said Elgin.
The prosecutor referred to statements of union leader Fred Derby who was the only one of 16 men, who had been arrested, who was not killed.
Derby died from a heart attack in 2001, but he had given a statement in December 2000, in which he said that it was Bouterse who had presided over a tribunal that decided who would die that night.
And Elgin said that even if Bouterse was not present in Fort Zeelandia, he could still be considered the culprit.
Elgin argued that there were enough statements from trustworthy witnesses to back his demand that Bouterse be jailed for 20 years.
Bouterse’s legal team was scheduled to address the military court today.