Former Suriname President Desi Bouterse Placed On INTERPOL’s Wanted List

CMC – The International Police (INTERPOL) has placed former Suriname president Desi Bouterse on its Red Notice list, nearly three months after he was sentenced to 20 years in jail for murder.

The whereabouts of Bouterse, 78, remains a mystery after he first failed to keep his scheduled appointment in January to report to the prison in Santo Boma just south of the capital, Paramaribo.

He is on the INTERPOL list with photo, age and appearance description. Police in Suriname issued an arrest notice for the convicted former president on January 17.

A ‘Red Notice’ is an official request to law enforcement authorities worldwide to locate and provisionally arrest an individual pending extradition, surrender or similar legal action. It is based on an arrest or court order issued by the judicial authorities in the requesting country.

In January, the Public Prosecution Service (OM) announced that it was in the process of issuing an international arrest warrant for the former president after he failed for a second time to report to a local prison.

Bouterse, who was not present when the Court of Justice had issued the ruling in December last year, 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 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.

Three of the co-convicted retired soldiers, Ernst Gefferie, 81, Stephanus Dendoe 68 and Benny Brondenstein 68, all reported to prison. But Bouterse’s bodyguard, Iwan Dijksteel, has also not reported to the prison to begin serving his 15-year sentence.

The OM announced on Tuesday night that it had officially initiated the process to use Interpol to track down Bouterse and Dijksteel.

It is also calling on the public to provide information about the whereabouts of Bouterse and Dijksteel, adding that persons with relevant information should contact the Military Police Criminal Investigation Department.

Police in the Dutch-speaking CARICOM country have since launched a search for both Bouterse and Dijksteel, even as the main opposition National Democratic Party, which the former president heads, maintains that the trial was political and directed by The Netherlands.