Netherlands raps Suriname over killings amnesty

AMSTERDAM,  (Reuters) – The Netherlands slammed as “totally unacceptable” a vote by lawmakers in its former colony Suriname granting amnesty to the suspected killers of 15 opponents of President Desi Bouterse 30 years ago.

Bouterse, who was elected in 2010, was among those on trial over the 1982 murders.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte warned that yesterday’s decision would have serious consequences, and said the Netherlands had summoned its ambassador to Suriname back to The Hague for consultations.

“It is totally unacceptable for the victims and the survivors,” Rutte told reporters at his regular weekly press conference.

Bouterse – convicted in absentia of drug trafficking by a court in the Netherlands – is a powerful force in Suriname and the leader of two coups.

He has refused to attend the murder trial for four years, and it is unclear whether the prosecution would proceed after the vote by the National Assembly, which approved the amnesty bill after three days of debate.

The public prosecutor had been scheduled to give his closing speech in the case on April 13.

A Dutch foreign ministry spokesman said today that because of the amnesty, the Netherlands would ban all of the suspects in the 1982 murders, including Bouterse, from traveling to the Netherlands.

“None of the suspects are welcome here,” Job Frieszo told Reuters.

Last month, one suspect testified how he saw Bouterse at the Fort Zeelandia military base on the day in December 1982 when 15 of the coup leader’s opponents were killed.

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