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Suriname ex-dictator trial resumes with testimony on coup leader execution

[JURIST] The trial of former Suriname [JURIST news archive] dictator Desi Bouterse [backgrounder] resumed Friday with testimony by a former prison warden that he brought a leader of a 1982 military coup to an army barracks for execution. The testimony [AFP report] of the former warden of Suriname's Santo Boma prison, a former military officer under Bouterse, came during the ongoing trial of Bouterse for the so-called "December Murders" of 15 of Bouterse's political opponents by the military regime at Fort Zeelandia, Paramarimbo in 1982. The trial began [JURIST report] in July 2008, and has already included testimony by Bouterse's former bodyguard Onno Flohr that the former dictator was present at the killings. Bouterse, who was charged [JURIST report] in April 2008 and faces up to 20 years in prison, has staunchly denied his involvement, insisting that he was not present at the military compound at the time of the shootings.

Bouterse seized control of northeastern South American state of Suriname during a military coup in 1980, five years after the country achieved independence from the Netherlands. He stepped down in 1987 in the face of international pressure and briefly seized power in 1991. He is now the leader of the county’s primary opposition party, the National Democratic Party [official website, in Dutch], which is preparing for the 2010 presidential elections.

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