Trial of Surinam's ex-junta leader adjourned

24th January 2009, Comments 0 comments

In Surinam, the trial of former army leader Desi Bouterse before a military tribunal resumed on Friday after being adjourned for six months.

PARAMARIBO - He and 24 co-defendants, both civilians and soldiers, are accused of involvement in the murder of 15 opponents of the then military regime in December 1982.

As was the case during previous hearings, Mr Bouterse did not attend. After a number of witnesses were questioned, the trial was adjourned until 20 February.

The trial in Surinam began in 2007, and was adjourned last July after the defence challenged the president of the tribunal, Cynthia Valstein Montnor.

She was accused of being indirectly connected to President Ronald Venetiaan's Surinam National Party. The Court of Justice disallowed the challenge in December.

Surinam gained independence from the Netherlands at the end of 1975.

After a coup in early 1980, a military junta under Mr Bouterse's leadership replaced the democratic government in all but name.

His position was weakened by a civil war in the 1990s and, in 1999, a Dutch court found him guilty in absentia of drugs trafficking.

There is an international arrest warrant for him but, as a former head of state, he cannot be extradited from Surinam. He remains a major political figure in the country.

Radio Netherlands/Expatica

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