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Surinamese Ex-Dictator's Plea for Civilian Trial Rejected

A judge has ruled that former Suriname dictator Desi Bouterse must be tried by a military tribunal, rather than a civilian court, on charges he killed 15 political opponents.

The ruling was handed down on Monday in response to an appeal by Bouterse's lawyer, who argued Bouterse should be tried before a civilian court as a former government official, rather than by the tribunal as a member of the military.

Bouterse is a former army commander who took power in Suriname in a coup in 1980. He and 24 other defendants are accused of taking part in the torture and execution of 15 political opponents including journalists, lawyers, and university professors in December 1982.

Bouterse was named as a suspect after a four-year investigation that ended in 2005. He has strongly denied any involvement.

Bouterse ruled Suriname from 1980 until international pressure forced him to step down in 1987. He remains a powerful figure in the former Dutch colony, as head of Suriname's biggest opposition party.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.