Bouterse wants Cocaine conviction retrial
President of Suriname, Desi Bouterse, wants his sentence to 11 years in prison due to cocaine trade be scrapped, and has asked the Supreme Court for a retrial, the NRC reports.
Bouterse's lawyer Inez Weski presented the Court with a request for a review on Tuesday against the 2000 conviction by the court in The Hague.
According to the lawyer, the key witness in the court case, Belgian Patrick van L. said that he gave a falsely incriminating statement to the court because he was under pressure from the Public Prosecution Service (OM). The witness said that Bouterse was involved in the transport of 474 kilos of cocaine, which was intercepted in the Stellendam port in 1997.
Weski states that the witness made this statement because the OM promised him several favors that were never made public. Van L. has retracted his earlier statements with the notary public.
in the request for a retrial, Bouterse's lawyer also asks for "a thorough investigation into the established violations of the probe and the judicial process, not only so that the client (Bouterse) be done right by, but at the same time it be prevented that an investigative team no longer be able to operate beyond every rule of law in this blinding manner."
Bouterse stood trial for a number of drug transporting claims, but was only convicted for the Stellendam case, and got 11 years. Then-lawyer in that case, Bram Moszkowicz asked for a retrial in 2002. According to him, the statement given by key witness Van L. was untrustworthy.
Another Belgian man, Marcel G., who was also reported to be involved in the transport of drugs, said that L. was inventing a story in exchange for reduced sentences. At that time, the Supreme Court did not re-open the case.
There is currently an international warrant for Bouterse's arrest, courtesy of the Netherlands. Bouterse is president of Suriname, which means he has immunity and cannot be arrested.