A Suriname court convicted President Desi Bouterse on Friday for murdering the execution of 15 opponents in 1982 following a coup to seize power, sentencing the man who dominated the recent history of the former Dutch colony to 20 years in prison. .
Opposition parties have called for Bouterse's resignation, currently in China on official visit. The military court that found him guilty has not yet ordered his arrest.
Bouterse led the South American country in the 1980s as head of a military government, then took office again in 2010 and secured reelection five years later.
Executions during blow
The court ruled that Bouterse oversaw an operation in which soldiers under his command kidnapped 16 key government critics – including lawyers, journalists and university professors – and killed 15 of them in a colonial fortress in the capital Paramaribo.
A union leader survived and then testified against Bouterse.
Bouterse, who firmly denied the charges, can appeal the decision. So far, he has not commented on his conviction and is expected to travel to Cuba as planned on Saturday.
In a statement, the government of Suriname said it "took note of developments and urged the community to maintain peace."
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