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Suriname: Search launched for fugitive ex-president

January 13, 2024

PARAMARIBO, Suriname, CMC – Police have launched a search for former President Desi Bouterse who has been sentenced to serve 20 years in prison for his role in the murder of 15 political opponents on December 8, 1982, when a military junta led by him was in power in Suriname.

The Public Prosecution Service of Suriname said the police started the search and arrest for the former president, 78, as he did not show up at the prison on Friday morning as scheduled, to start serving his prison sentence.

 On December 20 last year, the ex-army commander was sentenced by the Court of Justice to a prison term of 20 years along with three co-convicted retired soldiers, Ernst Gefferie, 81, Stephanus Dendoe 68 and Benny Brondenstein 68, who all reported to prison. 

The fifth convict, Iwan Dijksteel, did not show up and, like Bouterse, is on the run and is now being tracked down by the police.

Bouterse and his political party, have always stated that the criminal trial was politically motivated and directed by former coloniser the Netherlands. 

This was also emphasised on Friday at his residence by his wife Ingrid Bouterse-Waldring and board members of his party, where supporters had gathered to express moral support for their leader in case he went to prison.

His wife told supporters and the press that her husband was not at home, that she did not know his whereabouts and had not spoken to him for several days. 

She further said that Bouterse would not go to prison. 

In a statement to the media on Thursday, Bouterse’s lawyer said the former president would bow to justice and the law and, like the other convicts, would surrender to the authorities for the execution of his sentence.

Meanwhile, on Friday, Bouterse’s personal security, consisting of soldiers and police officers, assigned to him by the government as ex-president, was withdrawn with immediate effect. 

Government vehicles assigned to him were also seized.   

According to local reports, it’s believed that the former president may have fled abroad several days ago and could be in Venezuela.

Photo: CMC


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