Rebels tortured and shot in three-day killing spree for criticising the military

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The ‘December Murders’ was the brutal torturing and killing of 15 opponents of the military regime of Desi Bouterse over three horrific nights 39 years ago.

Prominent Surinamese men who criticised the military were arrested in their beds and taken to Fort Zeelandia on 7, 8, and 9 December 1982 – the former headquarters of the Surinamese dictator Bouterse.

According to witness statements, the victims were first brought before Bouterse to face a mock arraignment and tortured with unspecified methods before they were shot dead by a firing squad on Bastion Veere, one of the open spaces in Fort Zeelandia.

Reports say Bouterse himself was present in Fort Zeelandia when the victims were killed.

In the aftermath of the killings, many civilians fled the country, international protests broke out in several Western countries by human rights organisations.

In a financial boycott, the former colonial power, Netherlands, immediately froze development aid.

Bouterse continues to deny the guilt in the December murders.

But he did accept political responsibility for the killings in March 2007, despite explicitly stating that he had not personally 'pulled the trigger' to kill the fifteen men.

The Victims of the December Murders

  • John Baboeram, lawyer
  • Bram Behr, journalist
  • Cyrill Daal, union leader
  • Kenneth Gonçalves, lawyer
  • Eddy Hoost, lawyer, former minister
  • André Kamperveen, football player, journalist and businessman
  • Gerard Leckie, university teacher
  • Sugrim Oemrawsingh, scientist
  • Lesley Rahman, journalist
  • Surendre Rambocus, military officer
  • Harold Riedewald, lawyer
  • Jiwansingh Sheombar, military soldier
  • Jozef Slagveer, journalist
  • Robby Sohansingh, businessman
  • Frank Wijngaarde, journalist (with Dutch citizenship)

However, a former confidant of Bouterse testified under oath in March 2012 that Bouterse himself had shot two of the victims.

On 29 November 2019, a military court found the president was sentenced to 20 years in prison.

But was not present at court due to an illness.

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Judges upheld the 2019 sentence but he filed an objection, forcing the court-martial to reconsider his case.

Bouterse stayed out of jail after his initial conviction two years ago and was allowed to await the handling of his objection in freedom.

On 30 August 2021, the verdict of 20 years was upheld and another appeal was filed on September 3.

  • Crime
  • Murder

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