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< Current local time in Suriname – Paramaribo
AMSTERDAM—Police have paid for the funeral of a young man of Surinamese origin who was shot and killed by an officer last year, which according to expert has happened only twice before. But police have been quick to stress that though the shooting was questionable, them paying for the services of the victim should not be viewed as an admission of guilt.
Rishi Chandrikasing died in November last year when a policeman fired a shot at him at Hollands Spoor train station in The Hague; the policeman will be tried within a month. The Hague police said its paying for the cremation should not be taken as a confession of guilt. “As long as the criminal case (against the policeman) is not completed, we are not taking a formal stance,” said Wim Hoonhout, spokesman for the The Hague Unit.
PARAMARIBO–While the Foreign Ministry has mounted efforts to control the damage the terrorist claims against the President’s son has caused Suriname’s image, it seems the effects of these claims may ripple beyond the country’s borders. The Simon Wiesenthal Center, a New York based “international Jewish human rights organization” has said that the investigation into Dino Bouterse validates its claims of an extensive Iranian and Hezbollah sleeper network across Latin America and the Caribbean.
Dino, who in 2005 was already convicted by a local court for weapons trafficking, was arrested in Panama on weapons and drugs trafficking charges on August 28th and extradited to the United States. Investigators produced evidence that showed how Dino was also tricked by DAE agents posing as Hezbollah members into shipping 10 kilograms of cocaine from Suriname to the US. Then, at his first hearing in New York on Friday November 9th, an additional indictment was added to his charge, which accused him of “offering support, resources and a base in Suriname to Hezbollah”; Dino had been caught on tape offering his services to purported members of this organization in return for an initial US$ 2 million pay-off he expected to come from Iran.
AMSTERDAM—An Amsterdam based minter, arrested by police last week, was apparently living the high life while ducking from creditors, and reneging on promises he was making to clients, among them the Central Bank of Suriname CBvS. “Patrick Onel always dined in the finest restaurants and liked to be around beautiful women,” a North Holland website says, quoting a source. But it seems there was a dark side to the minter that eventually landed him in jail last week, and now his big clients, including the CBvS, are beginning to jump ship.
Onel was taken into custody with his business partner on November 7th following a raid of their company, European Central Mint (ECM), by the Fiscal Information and Investigation Service FIOD. ECM did business with pension funds and investors, and O. had a deal with the CBvS to produce gold bullion. The Amsterdam West offices of ECM were closed down following the raid. Armed police officers were spotted keeping guard while FIOD agents gutted the minting factory.
PARAMARIBO—There will be an inquiry into criminal activities of Dino Bouterse, if necessary with foreign assistance, the Prosecutor’s Office has announced. In a press release issued on Thursday the formation of a special team was announced that will investigate the President’s son and other possible suspects.
“It goes without saying that a judicial investigation is warranted if there is sufficient evidence and circumstance hinting at what is considered a punishable act under Surinamese law. A decision is made dependent on what this investigation unearths,” Prosecutor General Subhaas Punwasi told journalists.
Calls for an investigation into Dino have increased since last Friday when a Manhattan District Attorney (DA) announced that a new charge of terrorism was being added to the President’s son’s indictment. Dino (41) was arrested in Panama on August 29 on drugs and weapons trafficking charges, and handed to US authorities. The Drug Enforcement Agency had evidence that he had attempted to ship at least 10 kilograms of cocaine into the USA, and showed off with a high-powered rocket launcher.
AMSTERDAM/PARAMARIBO- The boy who was ‘kidnapped’ out of Suriname by his father has to be returned to his grandparents in Suriname, a judge in Rotterdam has ordered. When Nizaad Nabi snatched his son Nishayad from school in Paramaribo two weeks ago, he took the boy out of his trusted environment and into a strange country, and this was not in Nishayad’s interest, the judge ruled on Wednesday. Nizaad has a week to return Nishayad to his grandparents, or risk a 2,000 euro fine per day that he doesn’t. Meanwhile the boy’s grandparents also lodged a criminal complaint against Dutch journalist John van den Heuvel who aided in the kidnapping, while Suriname’s Foreign Ministry announced that it would be sending a formal protest note to the Netherlands for allowing the kidnapping to happen.
Nishayad Nabi has lived with his grandparents from 2010 when his mother Rabina died. The young woman had reportedly fled from her violent husband in the Netherlands a few months before she passed away. The boy’s father Nizaad has been locked in a custody battle with the grandparents since, but the case is going nowhere and everywhere at the same time. A court in the Netherlands first gave the father custody, which was later repealed in the wake of an appeal by the grandparents, who also started their own suit in Suriname, where a judge ruled that the boy could stay with them until a final decision was made.
PARAMARIBO/PORT OF SPAIN–A magistrate in Trinidad and Tobago has denied bail for Suriname national Edmund Quincy Muntslag who is being held there on the same drugs and weapons warrant as President Desi Bouterse’s son Dino. Chief magistrate Marcia Ayres Caesar ruled that there was no statutory requirement to grant bail to ‘fugitive offenders’. Extradition proceedings are expected to begin on October 25, for Muntslag to be handed over to the US and join Bouterse in court.
Muntslag and Bouterse were both arrested on August 29th, the result of a DEA investigation into the drug trafficking ring they are suspected to be part of. They are accused of conspiring to smuggle cocaine to the US; their indictment said that they already “caused a suitcase containing ten kilograms of cocaine to be transported from Suriname to the Caribbean on board a commercial flight” last July.
Dino (41) has a history of drug and weapons offenses. The President’s son was held in Panama and immediately transferred to Manhattan. His trial starts on November 9th in a federal court in the Southern District of New York. With his request for bail denied in Trinidad, co-conspirator Muntslag (29) also remains in custody. Per Trinidad law he can make one more attempt try to secure his freedom by applying to a judge in chambers.
PARAMARIBO–Two international media watchdogs -Reporters Without Borders RSF and the International Press Institute (IPI) – have squared themselves behind investigative monthly Parbode that has been sued by a former Government Minister for reporting that he was corrupt.
Ramon Abrahams, who until last June served as Minister of Public Works is seeking 1 million Surinamese dollars (230,000 euros) in damages and a correction in the magazine’s next issue. Court hearings began on Thursday. Both media watchdogs have expressed concern over the precedent that could be set should the magazine loose the case.
Parbode published a daring story in its August edition that detailed Abrahams’ ministership from his 2010 swearing-in to his dismissal in June 2013.
The story “The Abrahams Affair; stealing in Politics pays” claimed that after Abrahams’ tenure, millions of Surinamese dollars (SRDs) remain unaccounted for. “There are many different accounts about how Abrahams operated and enriched himself at Public Works, but it was difficult to get the exact story because President Bouterse put a lid on it. It probably was so bad the President didn’t even give an official reason why he sacked Abrahams,” the magazine alleged, quoting a host of anonymous sources that it had interviewed. Abrahams didn’t let it slide. Parbode publisher Jaap Hoogendam on 26 August received a letter from his lawyer Irwin Kanhai, demanding a retraction.
Kanhai said the story reeked of questionable journalism. “Parbode didn’t provide any proof to go with the story. It damaged my client’s reputation. You can’t invoke journalistic rights based on this,” the lawyer argued. The magazine refused to retract and the former Minister took to court.
PARAMARIBO–A Surinamese couple spent more than a month locked away in prison in the Netherlands, undeservedly branded as drug smugglers. “All the while I was thinking ‘i do not belong here. I want to go home.’ But nobody believed us. They said ‘you will not be going home any time soon,” said Santusia Camron, who together with her husband Raimel was arrested at Schiphol Airport on August 8 upon arrival in The Netherlands after a vacation in Suriname.
It were Santusia’s beauty products that raised red flags. “I prefer a product from Suriname so when I was there I stocked up on it,” she said. But when customs officers at Schiphol tested a douche gel for drugs the result was positive as cocaine. Denial didn’t work; the Camrons, who live in the parish of Almere in North Holland were handed over to the Marechaussee and taken into custody. Raimel: ‘We were treated like common criminals who were undoubtedly guilty. We were ordered to strip, had to undergo a full body search and were then interrogated separately.”
They were first locked up in the Bijlmer prison in Amsterdam Southeast and, after they received a 90-day extension of their pre-detention from the Judge of Instruction, got transferred to prisons in two different cities in the Netherlands.
PARAMARIBO–Former Public Works Minister Ramon Abrahams is taking magazine Parbode magazine to court over the publication’s daring story that alleged he had been corrupt. Parbode, which concentrates on opinion pieces and background features, last August ran what was billed as a detailed account of Abrahams’ ministership from his 2010 swearing-in to his dismissal in June 2013.
The story “The Abrahams Affair; stealing in Politics pays” aimed to give an unprecedented account of corruption at the Ministry. It claimed that after Abrahams’ tenure, millions of Surinamese dollars (SRD) remain unaccounted for. “There are many different accounts about how Abrahams, who turned 60 this month, operated and enriched himself at Public Works, but it was difficult to get the exact story because President Bouterse put a lid on it. It probably was so bad the President didn’t even give an official reason why he sacked his Minister,” the feature story stated.
It said journalists got several contractors to speak, of course on the basis of anonymity, “because saying anything against the sitting Government could cost you future work.” The story cited sources who claimed to have been ordered to grease the system if they wanted work. “You didn’t bid for a job; instead you were asked to do it,” one unnamed source was quoted.
PARAMARIBO–Suriname commissioned its Coast Guard on Sunday with a ceremony that featured demonstrations to the new armed unit’s prowess, which may serve as a warning to criminals who operate in the country’s territorial waters. National Security Director Melvin Linscheer and Colonel Jerry Slijngaard, chairman of the Coast Guard Operationalizing Committee, both hinted that with the new force the economic maritime zones will be better protected. “The Coast Guard is now a reality. We’re proud of this show of achievement by the Bouterse/Ameerali Government,” said Vice President Robbert Ameerali. He sneered that “this Government doesn’t stop short at appointing committees and reading reports.”
Suriname first announced that it was setting up a Coast Guard several years ago. The preparations accelerated last November when Government has announced that it was purchasing three fast patrol boats from French boat builder Ocea. The fully automated vessels that come equipped with the latest technology arrived in Suriname last August and dubbed P101, P102 and P201. The unit also has a helicopter. An initial Coast Guard crew of 20 men – on hand to give a demonstration on Sunday- has been in training since at the facilities of the maritime Authority Suriname (MAS), where the new corps is also headquartered while it awaits its own facilities. The unit will operate out of three coast guard stations, the first of which will be at the new headquarters in Paramaribo followed by one each near the Guyana and French Guyana borders.