Dutch coffee shop owner’s Thai jail term cut to 75 years on appeal

Photo: wollertz

A Dutchman sentenced to 103 years in a Thai jail for money laundering the proceeds of of his coffee shops in the Netherlands has had the sentence reduced to 75 years on appeal.

Johan van Laarhoven, who ran several cannabis cafes, or coffee shops, in Tilburg and Den Bosch has lived in Thailand since 2008. He was arrested in 2014 and subsequently jailed for laundering money made from the Dutch coffee shops which were licenced.

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 2015. His wife was jailed at the time for 13 years. That has now been reduced to seven years and four months.

Last year several Dutch MPs began campaigning for Van Laarhoven’s release. His lawyer, Tim Vis, has also started civil proceedings in the Netherlands about the original embassy request and says there is nothing to stop the Dutch government requesting he be allowed to testify at that trial.

‘The Dutch state has been careless on all fronts,’ Vis told the NRC. ‘The state should now be making an effort on his behalf. Now the appeal has been heard, there is no reason to delay applying for his return.’

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