The wife of former president of Suriname, Desi Bouterse, who has been sentenced to 20 years in jail for his involvement in the killing of 15 people more than four decades ago, says he will not be reporting to jail as ordered on Wednesday by the public prosecutor.
“No, he’s not going to report,” Ingrid Bouterse-Waldring told reporters, saying also that the former military dictator is not at home and she does not know of his whereabouts.
“I don’t know, I don’t know,” Bouterse-Waldring repeated, as she was surrounded by several dozen supporters of the main opposition National Democratic Party (NDP) that is chaired by her husband.
The former president and army leader had until Monday to request a pardon but did not do so. He is to appear at a jail in the country alongside four co-defendants on Friday.
On December 20, last year, the Court of Justice imposed a 20 year-jail term on Bouterse, who has been implicated in the murder of 15 men on December 8, 1982.
Bouterse, who was not present when the Court issued the ruling, had appealed against his conviction that had been handed down in August 2021, when the Court Martial of Suriname upheld the 2019 military court ruling of a 20-year-jail term following a trial that had been going on for several years.
In 2017, Bouterse along with 23 co-defendants appeared in the military court after the Court of Justice had earlier rejected a motion to stop the trial. The former military officers and civilians had been charged with the December 8, 1982, murders of the 15 men that included journalists, military officers, union leaders, lawyers, businessmen and university lecturers.
The prosecution had alleged that the men were arrested on the nights of December 7 and 8, and transferred to Fort Zeelandia, the then headquarters of the Surinamese National Army. They said the men were tortured and summarily executed.
Bouterse was sentenced to 20 years in prison and Iwan Dijksteel, Benny Brondenstein, and Ernst Gefferie were each sentenced to 15 years.
The five convicts were summoned by bailiffs’ writ on Wednesday to report to the location where they will be locked up. Dendoe, Dijksteel, Brondenstein and Gefferie were ordered to report to the Central Penitentiary Institution in Santo Boma and the Penitentiary Institution Duisburglaan.
Bouterse was not at home and according to the Public Prosecution Service his roommate, on two occasions, refused to accept the summons.
In response, the Public Prosecution Service emphasised that, once served, Bouterse will be locked up in a cell on the grounds of the Military Hospital in Paramaribo due to medical issues and because he is a former president.
Bouterse, 78, dominated politics in the former Dutch colony for decades and left office in 2020.
Bouterse led the country through the 1980s as head of a military government, then assumed office again in 2010, securing re-election five years later.
Bouterse-Waldring told reporters that the prosecution of her husband was a political process, led by the Dutch government.
“Why does the Netherlands keep those files? Why have they not dealt with the recusal of Kamperveen (one of the three members of the Court of Justice), while everyone knows that Kamperveen is family,” she told reporters.
She said based on his name alone, military judge Dennis Kamperveen should not have been a judge at the hearing of the appeal case, noting that one of the 15 people killed was also called André Kamperveen.
Waldring-Bouterse insisted that her husband did not shoot anyone and that the NDP will focus on the elections due in 2025.
“We are going to win the elections,” she added.
Meanwhile,the NDP is calling on supporters to gather in Leonsberg on Friday at Bouterse’s home.
“The NDP is a combative and revolutionary party that stands in solidarity with the leader of the revolution,” the party said in a statement.
The NDP says it does not agree with the “political verdict” and that supporters should remain focus on doing everything to win the elections of May 25, 2025.
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