Thursday 04 March 2021

Dutch businessman found guilty of war crimes in Liberia

A gavel in a courtroom.

Photo: Depositphotos

A Dutch businessman has been found guilty of war crimes and smuggling weapons into Liberia by the appeal court in Den Bosch in the latest twist in a legal case dating back over 10 years.

Guus Kouwenhoven, now 74, had been earlier found not guilty of the charges but the Supreme Court in 2010 ordered the case be heard again. Judges sentenced him to 19 years in prison, one year less than the public prosecution department had demanded.

On Friday Kouwenhoven was found guilty of delivering weapons to Liberian dictator Charles Taylor in 2000 and 2002 in return for special treatment for his timber company. The weapons deliveries broke international embargoes.

Some 150,000 people were killed during the Liberian civil war. Taylor was eventually deposed in 20013 and sentenced to 50 years in jail.

Kouwenhoven was first sentenced to eight years in prison for breaking the UN arms embargo on Liberia in 2006. That sentence was later overturned on appeal in 2008.

Then in 2010, the Supreme Court said later the appeal court was wrong to refuse to hear two key witnesses who could only give evidence anonymously and ordered the case to be heard again.

Kouwenhoven, who is in poor health, was not in court to hear the verdict. He has always denied the charges.

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