Dutch Police arrest man on suspicion of war crimes Surinamese Interior War

On 26 October 2021, the police arrested a 55-year-old man in Amsterdam who is suspected of committing war crimes during the Interior War, a civil war that raged in Suriname at the end of the last century. Investigation by the International Crimes Team indicates that the man, a Dutchman born in Suriname, murdered several civilians in 1987.

Interior War

Between 1986 and 1992 the Surinamese National Army led by Desi Bouterse fought against the so-called Jungle Commando of Ronnie Brunswijk. Hundreds of innocent civilians were killed and tens of thousands of residents were displaced.

The defendant has indicated in various ways that he was a member of the Infantry of the National Army of Suriname at that time and that he was part of the commandos during that period. He has told others that he killed several people in June 1987. This has also been reported to the police. As a result, the Netherlands Public Prosecution Service has launched an investigation.

War crimes

The killing of people who do not (any longer) take part in the fighting is a violation of international humanitarian law. The National Prosecutor’s Office is therefore investigating this case as a war crime, an international crime, and the defendant is suspected of violation of Article 8 of the Criminal Law in Wartime Act.

When defendants have Dutch nationality or are in the Netherlands, they can be prosecuted here. Under international law the Netherlands is obliged to investigate and prosecute international crimes. These obligations exist because these crimes are regarded as the most serious violations of international law, with the most far-reaching consequences for victims and the (international) legal order.

Call for information

The police is looking for more information for this investigation. This mainly concerns statements about the so-called 'cleansing actions' in the Brokopondo area, in the vicinity of Brownsweg in June 1987. In this area the Surinamese National Army carried out actions in which civilians were killed. Information that applies to this and that may be relevant to the investigation can be shared with the International Crimes Team of the National Criminal Investigation Department via warcrimes@politie.nl.

On 29 October, the examining magistrate decided to extend the pre-trial detention of the defendant by fourteen days.