Suriname's President Desi Bouterse has been sentenced to 20 years of imprisonment for the execution of 15 political opponents. The decision came by the panel of three judges on November 29 that marked the end of a historical trial that began in November 2007. The judges did not issue an arrest warrant. On the other hand, Bouterse's attorney, Irvin Kanhai, immediately appealed against the verdict calling it a pure political vendetta. Bouterse headed the South American nation through the 1980s as chief of a military government and then assumed office in 2010 and secured re-election five years later.
The court ruled that Bouterse had conducted an operation in which soldiers under his direction abducted 16 leading government critics which included lawyers, journalists and university teachers from their homes and killed 15 of them at a fortress in the capital Paramaribo in 1982. Bouterse, 74 is currently in China due to some official works and gave no immediate comment. The leader was expected to return Suriname on Saturday or Sunday, according to the vice president of his National Democratic Party (NDP). The government asked Suriname's inhabitants to keep calm shortly after the court issued its decision.
The head of the opposition Democratic Alternative '91 party, Angelic del Castillo said that Bouterse had disqualified himself from remaining the leader of Suriname and demanded his resignation immediately. Del Castillo said that it is in the dignity of the office and nation. The court also charged six other former military officers of murder for forcibly removing victims from their homes at night or participating in the shooting. In 1999, Bouterse was also convicted of drug trafficking by a court in the Netherlands, but he denied any wrongdoing. A top judge of Suriname in 2005 convicted Bouterse's son, Dino, of leading a gang that trafficked in cocaine, illegal arms, and stolen luxury cars.