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Most readers of this article are aware that the current President of Suriname Desire Delano Bouterse was convicted in absentia in 2001 of drug trafficking and sentenced to a term of seven years in prison. What most readers do not know is that this conviction was the result of a decade long campaign by certain Dutch governmental authorities to destroy the character and reputation of Mr. Bouterse. This campaign began in September 1992 when the former Minister of Justice in the Netherlands, Hirsh Bailin, dedicated himself to the task of removing Mr. Bouterse as a political force in Suriname. Bailin was convinced that within two years he could create a case that would allow a court to indict Bouterse and get him imprisoned in the Netherlands on drug trafficking charges. Lubbers, the former Prime Minister of the Netherlands had a plan to bring Suriname back under Dutch control under the colonial charter of the Kingdom of the Netherlands Act of 1954. His plan was to grant Suriname (which had become an independent state in 1975) ‘dominion status’. Under this status the Netherlands government in Den Haag would have direct control over foreign policy, matters relating to the judiciary and defense policy. This group felt that that Mr. Bouterse and his political followers stood in their way because of their strong commitment to Surinamese nationalism and their abhorrence to Dutch colonial rule. They were scared by the growth of awareness that Suriname as a nation could chart its own path without interference and guidance from the Dutch. In order to bring these plans for a new status for Suriname the group felt it was necessary to destroy Mr. Bouterse as a reputable political force. So this Dutch group planned to create a scenario in which Mr. Bouterse was to be charged with cocaine trafficking. Minister Bailin set up a special intelligence unit named COPA. This was an acronym for Colombia/Suriname. A team of 34 persons who were supposedly specialists in fighting drug trafficking was given its own budget and reported directly to the Minister. This group’s assignment was to produce evidence that Mr. Bouterse was the leader of a drug trafficking organization sending drugs from South America to Europe. They wanted to show that he was directly in a number of separate illegal drug shipments. They would also seek to get evidence that he was guilty of money laundering. The first tactic of this special unit was to create a ‘sting’ operation which was supposed to catch Mr. Bouterse “red-handed”. They approached several local drug dealers and asked them to do ‘business’ with Mr. Bouterse. In exchange for their co-operation these drug barons would be allowed to safely transport certain agreed levels of illegal drugs to the Netherlands. This nefarious scheme came to light publicly when a person identified as ‘Inder’ was arrested.He brought in an amount of illegal drugs beyond what he as ‘allowed’. The Dutch court in Den Haag severely reprimanded the Public Prosecutor for this type of inducement. At this point the COPA team gave up this program to arrange a ‘sting’ as Mr. Bouterse had shown that he would not respond to these so-called deals. COPA’s new approach which began in 1995 was to spread rumors that Mr. Bouterse had large sums of money hidden away in several countries. The Public prosecution identified 12 countries ranging as far afield as Israel and Australia. A Dutch Investigation team assisted by local narcotics agents simultaneously visited these 12 countries. They raided the homes and offices of friends and people who had had some form of contact with Mr. Bouterse. Although these investigators made thorough searches of safes, cabinets and of the documents in them they found nothing to incriminate Mr. Bouterse. This was yet another public Prosecution fiasco. At this point Attorney-General Van Leeuwers thought that the only way to build a case was to get sworn testimony from associates of Mr. Bouterse. After one of these persons was lured to the Netherlands seven anonymous witness gave statements which could be used as testimony. 1997-1999—The Case that Finally Obtained a Conviction The Public Prosecution initially charged Mr. Bouterse with six indictments. They supported their charges with the statements of the seven witnesses. Mr. Moskovitch, Mr. Bouterse’s lawyer moved that the case be tried in another court. This was rejected. Towards the end of the proceedings something quite unusual occurred. Another charge of illegally transporting 474 kilos of cocaine from Suriname to the Dutch port of Stellendam was suddenly added. Previously a Belgian, Patrick van Loon had been convicted of this crime in the Netherlands court. He had been sentenced to a four year term of imprisonment. When he appealed his sentence he was astonished to find that instead of a reduction his sentenced had been doubled to eight years. The Public Prosecution then arranged for Mr. van Loon to testify that Mr. Boutersehad been his accomplice in this crime. In return for this testimony Mr. van Loon was promised a reduction in his sentence. Following the sentencing on the first six charges Mr. Bouterse’s lawyer lodged an appeal.The Court of Appeal took barely half an hour before agreeing with the submission that the testimonies of the seven anonymous witnesses were unreliable and therefore unacceptable. There was no valid case against Mr. Bouterse on these charges. The COPA team had suffered a severe setback. After six years and the spending of considerable sums of money they had been unable to make these charges believable in a court. The Court, however, inexplicably accepted the testimony of Mr. van Loon as sufficient proof on one charge as it would be ‘detailed as shown’. A normal person would have several questions about this decision. Why did the court of appeal not take into account the following: • That the testimony of one person of questionable character was sufficient proof to convict in a case like this. • This witness not mention Mr. Bouterse’s name in the original case and the subsequent appeal. It is difficult to reconcile Mr. van Loon’s testimony with his training and criminal experience. • In his testimony, Mr. van Loon said that he had never spoken to Mr. Bouterse face to face. When questioned by a lawyer in Suriname Mr. van Loon was unable to recognize Mr. Bouterse’s voice. Despite all these questions that a normal person would raise the learned Appeal Court rejected all arguments and upheld the original decision and sentence. Since the decision in this case the law regarding Criminal Court procedure has changed in the Netherlands. Article 360 paragraph 2 of the Netherlands Code of Criminal procedure now states that ‘the testimony of a sole witness cannot be used as sufficient reason for the conviction of a suspect’. Failed Attempts to Reverse the Conviction In October 2001 Mr. Bouterse’s lawyer made a number of submissions against the original verdict. All were rejected by the court. When his lawyer turned up one day late to argue an appeal before the European Court in Strasbourg Mr. Bouterse started to question his lawyer’s sincerity and effectiveness. He, however, allowed him to submit arguments for a re-opening on the case. The argument for a review was based on the discovery of new evidence relating to the matter. A person, referred to as Marcel G., had been arrested in St. Lucia and extradited to the Netherlands for alleged involvement in the Stellendam case. In 2002 Bouterse and his lawyer began legal proceedings to have his case reopened saying new evidence had been brought to light. Bouterse's defense lawyer claimed that Van Loon's testimony was only made after securing a suspicious, nontransparent deal with the Dutch Public Prosecutor's Office to receive a reduced sentence for his involvement in another narcotics case. Bouterse's defense also claimed that Van Loon's testimony contradicted statements he made in other drug-related investigations, but on 4 March 2003 the High Court turned down Bouterse's request to reopen his case. On 25 July 2005 Bouterse and his Dutch lawyer, Inez Weski, submitted a second formal request to reopen the case claiming that the public prosecutor's office failed to present all available information to the court and had it done so, the courts might have ruled differently. Weski also submitted that she had obtained new information from an interview with the pilot of the ship that ferried the cocaine in the Stellendam case. According to Weski, Van Loon told the pilot that he planned to incriminate Bouterse after securing a deal with public prosecutors. Weski also asked the High Court why an alleged accomplice of Bouterse was not prosecuted if the evidence against Bouterse was been so solid. The High Court struck down this last appeal on January 31 saying the defense's arguments were groundless and were unlikely to lead to a different verdict were the case to be reconsidered. On January 31,2006 the Dutch High Court rejected a request by Desi Bouterse to reopen the case surrounding his 1999 conviction for narcotics trafficking. The decision appears to end Bouterse's long quest to have his conviction overturned.
Suriname Ambassador to the EU, Harvey Naarendorp has indicated that he recently discussed with the British Foreign Affairs for Commonwealth Affairs the desire for Suriname to join the Commonwealth. Ambassador Naarendorp recently presented his credentials to Queen Elisabeth II as a non-resident Ambassador. Suriname will be eligible for a number of financial advantages if it joins the Commonwealth. Suriname is a member of Caricom and most of the members of Caricom are members of the Commonwealth. Suriname was first colonized by the British in 1650 and was a colony until 1667. From 1799 until 1816 the British again occupied Suriname. So the country has some historical connection to the British Commonwealth of Nations. Commonwealth countries share many links. There are over a 100 Commonwealth wide non-governmental organizations, notably for sports, culture, education, law and charity. The United Kingdom government indicated its willingness to assist Suriname in its objectives of becoming a major food supplier in the Caribbean and in its national goal to promote food security. Suriname has indicated that it is currently beginning the implementation of a master plan for its agriculture sector. The British company Tullow Oil is doing its exploration in cooperation with Suriname national oil corporation Staatsolie. United Kingdom officials told Naarendorp that the UK is focusing on further integration in Latin America. Ambassador Naarendorp promised Suriname’s assistance in this thrust. Ambassador Naarendorp also said that he hoped that there would be a meeting between President Bouterse and UK Prime Minister Cameron during the United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York in September 2012. Naarendorp is also arranging a meeting between Suriname Foreign Minister Winston Lackin and UK Foreign Minister William Hague.
The AlphaMax Academy Youth Challenge Programme will take place this year from Monday, June 18th to Thursday, 21st June, at Tonka Island in Brokopondo. High school students are invited to participate in this special programme which we started in 2011. Fritz van Troon, respected Surinamese field botanist, will host the Academy and guide the three day educational programe. Tonka Island has separate male/female dormitories, dining hall facilities and a nature museum. Several members of staff including Director Sean Taylor and Deputy Emiel Krak will attend the three day event at Tonka Island with the high school students. Students and staff will depart from the Academy on Monday, June 18th at 8.30 am, and will begin the journey back from Tonka Island to Paramaribo at 10.00 am on Thursday, June 21st.
Msiba, My Love has been selected for Belize International Film Festival 2012 to be held from the 13-17 July. Msiba, My Love is one of eight films selected in the animation category. From the huge number of submission it will be one of the 64 featured films. It is the first time that a film from Suriname will be represented at the festival. Msiba,My Love was directed by Milton Drepaul and Sean Taylor The Official Selection boasts films from 24 different nations including Belize, Trinidad and Tobago and the USA, who all submitted the most films to be a part of this yearÂ’s festival. Msiba, My Love was Suriname's only entry. Stunning images of the Suriname rain forest tell the story of an ecological crime committed on the Saramakan people in Suriname in 1964 when a hydro electric dam was built and a huge artificial lake submerged their homes. The central message in both the book and DVD is that humanity needs to appreciate that Mother Earth bestows gifts to us and we must have a humble and sacred relationship with her. The DVD features the reading of The Tagore Prize Winning poem - Msiba, My Love by Ivan Khayiat -- read in seven languages -- English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Hindi, Saran Tongo and Saramakan. The DVD has stunning images of the earth and the rain forest. These images celebrate the beauty of Suriname's forest interior. It, however, also evokes pain and sorrow as we see the threats to this pristine environment from indiscreet mining and logging. The pictures in the DVD were done by Rohit Badatljawdharie, Rudi Moredjan and Studio TMC. The images and animation complements the reading and adds to the words of the poem. The film editor Shafeek Nazir has carefully interpreted the poem. So the viewer has another layer of emotional intensity. Shafeek Nazir , AlphaMax Graduate (2011 Class) was editor, graphics and animation director. A specially composed sound track by Rohit Badatljawdharie with hypnotic and haunting tones is in the background. It gives its own signature to the DVD. The poetry is by Ivan Khayiat who won the 2011 Tagore National Poetry Award. Msiba, My Love was read in English by Therese Dover --A Tear of Joy and the poet Ivan Khayiat--A Tear of Sorrow. Both voices combine in the reading of Bitter/Sweet. It is also read in Dutch by Eugene Merkus; in French by Renee Fulgence and Rene-Claude Coeta; in Samaaka by Marijke Agwense; in Portugese by Antonio Quintella; in Hindi by Bhawna Saxana; In Sranan Tongo by France Oliveira and in Spanish by Luis Carlos Alvarez Martin. The Foreword to the book was translated into eight languages - Eugene Merkus (Dutch), Renee Fulgence (French), Marijke Agwense (Samaaka), Bhawna Saxana (Hindi), Xu Li-Jin Xu (Mandarin Chinese), France Oliveira (Sranan Tongo), Davi Quintella and Maria Cristina Silva Finkie (Portugese) and Luis Carlos Alvarez Martin (Spanish). Msiba was chosen a state gift by the government of Suriname and a copy of the book and DVD was presented to 15 Caribbean heads of state. A group in Brazil has invited Lily Strand Publishing to be part of their Rio 20 + participation in June 2012.
The Language Perfectionist: Whiling Away By Don Hauptman I found these sentences via online search. Can you see a problem with them? "The screensaver comes on for awhile and then goes blank." "Good to leave DC for awhile." "My husband and I are separating for awhile." In all three examples, awhile (one word) should be a while (two words). Why? The word awhile is an adverb. It means "for a period" or "for a time." Thus, for is baked into the word, and for awhile is redundant. On the other hand, a while is a noun phrase, consisting of an indefinite article and a noun. It's properly used following a preposition, so the final example above should read, "My husband and I are separating for a while."
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