Former Suriname dictator Desi Bouterse, who was sentenced last month to 20 years in prison for the killings of 15 political opponents, has vanished after not turning himself in to authorities as planned
PARAMARIBO, Suriname — PARAMARIBO, Suriname (AP) — Former Suriname dictator Desi Bouterse, who was sentenced to 20 years in prison last month for the killings of 15 political opponents, has vanished after not turning himself in to authorities on Friday as planned.
His wife, Ingrid Bouterse-Waldring, told reporters that she did not know where he was and firmly stated, “He’s not going to jail!”
“I haven’t seen or spoken to him for a few days,” she said as she lashed out at judicial authorities for the conviction, claiming it was politically motivated.
Meanwhile, dozens of backers of Bouterse and the National Democratic Party he chairs arrived at his house to show their support as some yelled at journalists and played loud music, prompting government officials to tighten security measures.
“All necessary steps will be taken to ensure that the safety of both those involved and the wider society is guaranteed,” the government said in a statement.
Spokesman Ricardo Panka said the party disagrees with the sentencing and noted that Bouterse will remain as chairman. But he said the crowd was ordered to remain calm.
“We are not going to create an angry mob to go against the authorities,” he said.
Bouterse was sentenced on Dec. 20 after being found guilty in the 1982 killings, ending a historic 16-year legal process. He had previously been sentenced in 2019 and 2021 but appealed both rulings.
A new team of lawyers filed an appeal Monday against the sentencing on grounds that an amnesty law Bouterse unsuccessfully tried to push through more than a decade ago would apply, but Suriname’s attorney general rejected the move on Tuesday.
On Wednesday, authorities ordered Bouterse and four others convicted in the case to report to various prisons by Friday. Only three have done so.
Bouterse led a bloodless coup to become dictator from 1980 to 1987. During that time, he and two dozen other suspects were accused of executing prominent people including lawyers, journalists and a university professor at a colonial fortress in the capital of Paramaribo.
Bouterse has accepted “political responsibility” for the 1982 killings but insists he was not present.
He was later democratically elected as president from 2010 to 2020.
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