A military court in Suriname sentenced President Desi Bouterse to 20 years in prison Friday over the executions of political opponents when he was the South American country’s dictator in the 1980s.
Bouterse, 74, is on a state visit to China and will appeal the judgement when he returns next week, his lawyer Irvin Kanhai said.
A two-time coup leader, two-term president and convicted drugs-trafficker, Bouterse has dominated Suriname’s politics since taking power in a 1980 military coup.
Friday’s judgement, delivered by a three-member court martial led by Judge Cynthia Valstein-Montor, relates to the executions of 15 regime opponents in December 1982.
The so-called “December killings,” in which the regime rounded up and executed 13 civilians and two military officers, have long clouded Bouterse’s rule.
Bouterse has always denied involvement, saying the victims had been held for plotting a counter-coup with the help of the CIA, and had been shot while trying to escape.
His evidence, presented by his lawyers, contradicted several witnesses who said he was present during the executions at Fort Zeelandia, the colonial fortress in the capital Paramaribo.
In her ruling, Valstein said Bouterse had played a “crucial” role in the killings, carefully preparing the ground for executions he had the power to prevent.
Military prosecutors opened the case against Bouterse and 24 other suspects in 2007, but the president and political allies several times sought to derail it in Congress.
The trial has gone on so long — 12 years — that six of the suspects have died.
Bouterse is due to begin the second leg of his foreign trip, a two-day visit to Cuba, on Monday on his way back from China.
The veteran leader is unlikely to go to jail anytime soon, however. Under Surinamese law, he cannot be arrested until all appeals have been exhausted.
Bouterse seized power as a 34-year-old sergeant major.
He stepped down in 1987 under international pressure, but returned to power in 1990 in a second, bloodless coup. He left office a year later.
In 2010, Bouterse’s election as president protected him from an Interpol arrest warrant issued after a Dutch court sentenced him to 11 years in prison for cocaine trafficking.
Dutch-speaking Suriname’s people have roots in Asia, Africa, Europe and the Americas.
It gained independence from the Netherlands in 1975.
BREAKING: Sudan’s Al-Bashir Sentenced To Two Years For Corruption
A court in Sudan convicted former President Omar al-Bashir of money laundering and corruption on Saturday, sentencing him to two years in prison.
That’s the first verdict in a series of legal proceedings against al-Bashir, who is also wanted by the International Criminal Court on charges of war crimes and genocide linked to the Darfur conflict in the 2000s.
The verdict came a year after Sudanese protesters first began their revolt against al-Bashir’s three-decade authoritarian rule. During that time, Sudan landed on the U.S. list for sponsoring terrorism, and the economy has been battered by years of mismanagement and American sanctions.
Before the verdict was read, supporters of al-Bashir briefly disrupted the proceedings and were pushed out of the courtroom by security forces.
Al-Bashir, 75, has been in custody since April, when Sudan’s military stepped in and removed him from power after months of nationwide protests. The uprising eventually forced the military into a power-sharing agreement with civilians.
The former strongman was charged earlier this year with money laundering, after millions of U.S. dollars, euros and Sudanese pounds were seized in his home shortly after his ouster.
The Sudanese military has said it would not extradite him to the ICC. The country’s military-civilian transitional government has so far not indicated whether they will hand him over to the The Hague.
The corruption trial is separate from charges against al-Bashir regarding the killing of protesters during the uprising.
Anti-government demonstrations initially erupted last December over steep price rises and shortages, but soon shifted to calls for al-Bashir to step down. Security forces responded with a fierce crackdown that killed dozens of protesters in the months prior his ouster.
FG Bars Onnoghen From Travelling, Seizes His Passport
The immediate past Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen, has been barred from travelling out of the country by the President, Muhammadu Buhari.
It was gathered that the move may not be unconnected to a fresh probe into Onnoghen’s affairs. Onnoghen was convicted for not declaring his assets by the Code of Conduct Tribunal in April.
An internal report issued by the Nigeria Immigration Service, stated that Onnoghen, his wife and daughter were attempting to travel to Accra, Ghana when they were accosted by immigration officers.
The report stated, “On November 11, 2019, retired Honourable Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen, was attempting to travel to Accra, Ghana. He was in company with his wife, Nkoyo, and daughter.
“His passport, with number A50445233, was flagged because Justice Onnoghen’s name was on the watch list. The passport is currently in custody of the NIS.”
The senior officer told newsmen that the passport seized from Onnoghen was not a diplomatic passport but the ordinary green passport.
The immigration officer further disclosed that the directive to seize Onnoghen’s passport came from the Presidency.
“Justice Onnoghen will have to meet with the Presidency to know why his passport was seized. We are only following instructions,” the officer said.
Recall that in a judgment by the three-man bench led by Justice Stephen Adah, it was unanimously ruled that the CCT’s ex parte order breached the ex-CJN’s right to a fair hearing.
While reading the lead judgment, Justice Adah stated that the proceedings of the CCT shouldn’t have been conducted “in a shady or clandestine manoeuvre” the way the ex parte order was obtained by the prosecution.
However, the court said it could not upturn Onnoghen’s conviction since the trial had already taken place.
Nigerian-Born Chinyelu Onwurah Makes History, Wins Seat In UK General Election
Nigerian-born Chinyelu Onwurah has made a mark in world politics. She won the first seat that was declared for Labour party in the United Kingdom election held on Thursday, December 12.
The Independent reports the Nigerian took Newcastle Central with whopping votes of 21,568 to beat her Conservative opponent’s 9,290.
Following her success, another Labour’s candidate, Bridget Phillipson, won seat in Houghton and Sunderland South.
It should be noted that Chinyelu was born on April 12, 1965. Her mother is from Newcastle who met her Nigerian father when he was a dentist and studied at the Newcastle University Medical School.
According to the information on her website, she recalled how her parents had to leave Nigeria after the infamous 1967 civil war.
“I was still a baby when my father took us to live in Awka, Nigeria. But two years later, the Biafran Civil War broke out, bringing famine with it and, as described vividly in an Evening Chronicle article in 1968, my mother, my brother and sister and I returned as refugees to Newcastle, whilst my father stayed on in the Biafran army,” she said.
Thank you to everyone in #NewcastleCentral for re-electing me as your Member of Parliament. Representing you is the best job in the world and it will be a privilege to continue stand up for you in Parliament. THANK YOU! pic.twitter.com/6m9JJrbID5
— chi onwurah (@ChiOnwurah) December 13, 2019
The Straits Times reports that Marin’s victory was a close margin, making her the replacement for the outgoing Antti Rinne who lost people’s confidence with the way he handled postal strike.
“We have a lot of work to do to rebuild trust,” Marin said as she spoke to newsmen, parrying questions that had to do with her age.