– about to testify in Dutch trial
Media reports have surfaced that convicted Guyanese drug trafficker, Shaheed ‘Roger’ Khan, was in telephone contact several times with Suriname President, Desi Bouterse, before his arrest and 2009 incarceration in the US.
A Dutch evening newspaper, NRC Handelsblad, yesterday reported that the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has records from a satellite phone belonging to Khan in which the mobile number of Bouterse came up. The calls took place between late 2005 and mid-June 2006.
Khan, 41, was jailed for a total of 40 years in October 2009 by a New York court after being arrested in Suriname in 2006, flown to Trinidad and handed over the federal agents of the US. However, he will only spend 15 as the sentences on the three charges will run concurrently.
President Bouterse, at the time of the alleged calls, was a Parliamentarian in that neighbouring, former Dutch territory.
In a U.S. diplomatic post in 2011 leaked by the WikiLeaks website, there was “social and operational links” between Bouterse and Khan. But there has never been any hard evidence presented.
Bouterse’s lawyer, Inez Weski, reportedly declined to comment on the links only denying that there is no link.
Citing intelligence sources, NRC Handelsblad said that Bouterse and Khan appeared to be part of a drug network, to which Piet Wortel, alleged to be one of Holland’s biggest drug traffickers, and Dino Bouterse, belonged. Dino Bouterse is the son of Bouterse who was arrested by Panamanian authorities late last month on drugs and weapons charges and handed over the US. He has appeared in court there.
The trial of Wortel scheduled to begin in December, is one of the largest Dutch drug cases in years, media reports have said. Piet Wortel is said to be a powerful figure who rubbed shoulders with Holland’s rich and owned media empire targeting sports broadcasting.
Khan, the report said yesterday, is expected to testify at the trial via a video link from his US jail.
Khan was given 15 years for conspiracy to import cocaine into the US; 15 years for witness tampering and 10 years on the 16-year-old illegal possession of firearm charge, which originated in the state of Vermont.
He had entered into a plea bargain deal with US prosecutors on March 2009.
Prior to his arrest in Suriname, Khan managed several businesses in Guyana, reportedly owning an island in the Essequibo River, a construction firm and controlling a forestry concession.
He was accused of running the infamous ‘phantom’ killing squad responsible for the deaths of several persons linked to criminal activities.
In 2006, after police issued an arrest warrant for him, Khan had publicly said in an advertisement that he was fighting criminals on behalf of the government. He later fled to Suriname where during a drug bust was arrested along with his bodyguards with 200 kilos of cocaine.
Regarding Bouterse, in 2000, he was sentenced in the Netherlands to 11 years imprisonment after being found guilty of trafficking 474 kilos of cocaine. Bouterse always denied being guilty and defended his conviction by claiming that the star witness in the case, Patrick van Loon, was bribed by the Dutch government.
According to Wikileaks cables released in 2011, Bouterse was active in the drug trade until 2006. Europol has issued an arrest warrant for him, but since he is President, he enjoys immunity.
Wikileaks cables from US embassies released in 2011 revealed that Bouterse was involved in drug-trafficking until 2006. Khan was believed to help Bouterse’s financial situation by giving him the means to supplement his income through narcotics trafficking.
According to the cables, Bouterse met Roger Khan several times in Nickerie at the house of MP Rashied Doekhi, who is prominent member of Bouterse’s political party. The cables also report that Bouterse and Khan were plotting to assassinate then minister of Justice Chan Santokhi and Attorney General Subhaas Punwasi.
Khan’s lawyer, Robert Simels, was sentenced to 14 years in prison for instructing a hit-man to kill the star witness in his client’s case. However, the hit-man turned out to be a government informant who secretly recorded the conversations with Simels.
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