Son of Suriname’s President confirms Hezbollah links in US Court



Dino Bouterse
Dino Bouterse

[] – In a plea deal with federal prosecutors for a possible lower sentence in his trial in New York, President Desi Bouterse’s son Dino has pleaded guilty to three of the counts stacked up against him. His plea deal came exactly a year after he was arrested by US authorities in Panama on drugs, weapons and terrorism charges.

Dino appeared in court on Friday and admitted that in 2013 he provided a fake Surinamese passport “to be used in support of Hezbollah” and brandished a pistol during related drug deals. According to reports the President’s son appeared in court wearing blue prison garb and used a Dutch interpreter for some exchanges with the judge.

He spoke slowly in English to admit to each charge, reversing his earlier denial of the allegations. “In 2013, I knowingly provided a false Surinamese passport to a person I believed to be associated with Hezbollah, an organization I knew to be designated as a terrorist organization by the United States,” Dino said in court.

The plea deal allows him to admit to a lesser charge of the third count, involving the use of a weapon during a drug trafficking crime. Whereas his indictment accused him of possessing a light anti-tank weapon, he pleaded guilty to carrying a firearm.

Dino (42), who once served prison time in Suriname for weapons theft and then was named the commander of the country’s Counter Terrorism Unit (CTU) when his father became President, was arrested in Panama exactly a year ago on August 29 2013 and then transported to New York, where he has been in custody since.

The charges against him include attempting to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization, conspiring to import more than 5 kilograms of cocaine into the US, and use of a destructive weapon during a drug-trafficking crime.

Aside from the cocaine shipment to Miami that had been linked to him, he had been taped in secrecy agreeing to deliver services, weapons and training facilities in Suriname to men he believed were members of terrorism organization Hezbollah. These terrorists, it turned out, had actually been informants of the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). The US agents and the CTU commander allegedly discussed hosting 30 to 60 Hezbollah members as “the first batch,” supplying them with passports and arranging for surface-to-air missiles and rocket-propelled grenades.

Dino’s trial is set to start on October 6 at the US District Court, Southern District of New York in Manhattan; US District Judge Shira Scheindlin will be presiding. A lengthy prison term seemed certain. Scheindlin said at the hearing on Friday that Dino could face 15 years to life in prison when he’s sentenced January 6, 2015.

She also said that the minimum sentence of 15 years may double if a terrorism enhancement applies to the case. He will also face deportation when he’s released from prison, she said. []



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