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Originally published Thursday, April 5, 2012 at 3:15 AM

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Dutch recall Suriname ambassador after amnesty

The Netherlands recalled its ambassador to Suriname on Thursday after the former colony approved an amnesty law pardoning President Desi Bouterse for crimes committed under his earlier military dictatorship.

Associated Press

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THE HAGUE, Netherlands —

The Netherlands recalled its ambassador to Suriname on Thursday after the former colony approved an amnesty law pardoning President Desi Bouterse for crimes committed under his earlier military dictatorship.

Dutch Foreign Minister Uri Rosenthal summoned ambassador Aart Jacobi back to The Hague from the South American country for consultations, the minister's spokesman Job Frieszo said.

The amnesty ended a long-running trial for Bouterse and 24 associates on charges of abducting and murdering 15 prominent political opponents in December 1982.

Frieszo told The Associated Press that Rosenthal called the decision "a slap in the face" for relatives of the slayings.

The Netherlands also is barring all suspects in the killings from entering the country.

"The minister is deeply disappointed" that the amnesty was passed, Frieszo said.

Suriname has long had a strained relationship with its former colonial master the Netherlands.

A Dutch court convicted Bouterse in absentia in 1999 of trafficking cocaine from Suriname to the Netherlands, but he has claimed his innocence and avoided an 11-year prison sentence because he can't be extradited under Surinamese law.

Bouterse seized power in a 1980 coup. He allowed the return of civilian rule in 1987 but staged a second coup in 1990. He stepped down as military chief in 1992, but has remained a powerful force in the nation of 500,000. Lawmakers elected him president in 2010.

Members of the military killed well-known journalists, lawyers and union leaders in the December 1982 killings. Bouterse previously accepted "political responsibility" for those slayings but said he was not present when the executions took place. Witnesses in the trial have disputed that claim.

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