MPs campaign for coffee shop owner to be freed by Thailand

Photo: wollertz
Photo: wollertz

MPs have urged ministers to ensure a Dutchman sentenced to 103 years in a Thai jail for drugs offences is brought back to the Netherlands.

Johan van Laarhoven, who ran several cannabis cafes, or coffee shops, in Tilburg and Den Bosch has lived in Thailand since 2008. He was jailed for laundering money made from the coffee shops which were licenced in the Netherlands.

Thai justice officials reportedly started investigating Van Laarhoven following a letter from a Dutch embassy worker, informing the authorities he had earned his money selling marijuana and requesting a criminal investigation.

Although these activities had taken place in the Netherlands and the Dutch authorities had turned a blind eye to them, he was arrested and then sentenced at the end of last year.

His wife was jailed for 13 years.


Now MPs from six parties are campaigning for his release. D66 MP Vera Bergkamp says she wants to know in particular what the role of the embassy worker was in calling for an investigation.

‘That is extremely unusual and serious considering he could have been sentenced to death,’ Bergkamp said. ‘I want to know if the Dutch authorities threw Van Laarhoven to the lions.’

A foreign ministry spokesman told the NRC in January that officials had not asked for Van Laarhoven to be arrested and were only after information.

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