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Suriname leader’s son confesses to ‘US attack plot’ countryman remains in T&T prison
The son of the president of Suriname has confessed to attempting to facilitate Lebanese terrorism group Hezbollah to establish a South American outpost. While Dino Bouterse waits on his sentencing hearing carded for January next year, his countryman Edward Muntslag, with whom he was jointly charged for conspiring to smuggle 10 kilos of cocaine into the United States, remains detained in T&T pending extradition.
According to several international reports on a hearing in a United States Federal court last Friday, Bouterse pleaded guilty to the joint drug trafficking indictment in addition to the terrorism charges.
Bouterse was extradited to the US last year after he was arrested in Panama in relation to the cocaine trafficking which is alleged to have taken place between 2011 and August, last year. He was later slapped with the terrorism charges which emanated from meetings in Greece and Panama with undercover US agents, posing as representatives of the militant organisation.
During Friday’s hearing, Bouterse admitted to agreeing to take US$2 million to provide Hezbollah operatives with fake identities, weapons including surface to air missiles and locations in his country to establish bases to attack US and Dutch targets. As part of the deal, Bouterse also asked that some of the operatives perform “tough guy” duties within Suriname on his request. Bouterse’s father Desi ruled Suriname as a military dictator from 1980 to 1987 and returned to power when he was elected by that country’s Parliament in 2010. He has since expressed shock over his son’s arrest and has said he was “responsible for his own actions”.
According to the drugs charge both Bouterse and Muntslag were accused of participating in the transportation of a suitcase with the drugs from Suriname to an unnamed Caribbean island aboard a commercial flight in July, last year. A month later, Muntslag, a 30-year-old businessman, was arrested by officers of the Organised Crime, Narcotics and Firearms Bureau (OCNFB) while shopping at Trincity Mall. During his first hearing before Chief Magistrate Marcia Ayers-Caesar, Muntslag applied for bail, however his request was refused and since then he has remained detained at the Maximum Security Prison in Arouca.
His extradition proceedings have reached an advanced stage with a hearing in the Port-of-Spain Magistrates’ Court scheduled for tomorrow. Muntslag is challenging his extradition on the grounds that documents sent by US authorities to the Office of the Attorney General had not been properly authenticated. Permanent secretary in the ministry, Marlene Juman has testified to clarify the issue. Attorneys representing the Central Authority and the requesting state are expected to call the police officer who arrested Muntslag on August 29, last year, as their latest witness before making final legal submissions. Muntslag is being represented by Keith Scotland and Asha Watkins-Montserin. Jagdeo Singh and Central Authority head Netram Kowlessar are representing the US interest in the case.
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