Court: Suriname must try President Bouterse for December Murders

Desi Bouterse (Photo: Pieter van Maele/Wikimedia Commons). (Desi Bouterse (Photo: Pieter van Maele/Wikimedia Commons))

The Suriname Public Prosecutor must try President Desi Bouterse as suspect in the December Murders trial, the Court of Justice ruled according to Surinamese newspaper De Ware Tijd. 

The December Murders refers to murders that took place in Fort Zeelandia in Paramiribo early in December 1982. Two years earlier, in February 1980, Bouterse staged a coup and deposed the Surinamese government. On December 7th, 8th, and 9th 1982, Bouterse's people arrested 15 prominent Surinamese people who were seen as opponents to the military regime, according to NOS. They were taken to Fort Zeelandia, tortured and killed.

The December Murders trial was suspended in 2012 after the controversial Amnesty Law was hurriedly implemented. At the time the trial was almost at sentencing stage. The Amnesty Law's validity was drawn into question because it clearly interfered with an ongoing criminal trial. In such a case, a Constitutional court would normally rule on whether or not the law is legal, but Suriname does not have such a court. Hugo Essed, the lawyer representing the December Murders victims' survivors, argued that in the absence of a Constitutional Court, the Court of Justice should rule whether or not the trial can continue.

According to De Ware Tijd, this is exactly what happened. The trial can now be resumed and the Surinamese president and other suspects can be sentenced. According to the newspaper, the Court of Justice's ruling has not officially been announced yet, but reliable sources confirmed the verdict.