Acquittal of Dutch Arms Dealer who Supplied Liberia’s Charles Taylor Overturned

By Elizabeth Conger
Impunity Watch Reporter, Europe

Photo: Alleged arms dealer to Charles Taylor, Guus Kouwenhoven.

THE HAGUE, Netherlands – The Dutch Supreme Court has ordered a retrial of Guus Kouwenhoven, the Dutch businessman convicted in 2006 for illegal arms dealing to Liberia during the Second Liberian Civil War. Kouwenhoven appealed his eight year sentence in 2008 and was released. The Dutch Prosecutor’s office subsequently appealed the acquittal, and was granted an appeal by the Supreme Court on Tuesday.

Guus Kouwenhoven, a timber trader who was in charge of the Oriental Trading Corporation between 2000 and 2003, was accused of  breaking a UN arms embargo by supplying anti-tank weapons and rifles to Charles Taylor’s regime in exchange for Liberian timber. During that period Liberia was embroiled in a bloody civil war.

Kouwenhoven acknowledged his close ties with Charles Taylor, but denied the charges against him. The Hague acquitted Kouwenhoven in 2008 on the grounds that it was not convinced of the credibility of the testimony provided by certain witnesses in his original trial.

The Supreme Court says that the Prosecutor’s appeal will allow two more witnesses to testify regarding Kouwenhoven’s complicity. The two witnesses allegedly saw Kouwenhoven take delivery of large shipments of weapons bound for Liberia. These two witnesses, who have chosen to remain anonymous, previously made their statements regarding the arms dealing to the Sierra Leone Tribunal.

A date has yet to be set for the Kouwenhoven appeal. Charles Taylor is currently on trial in The Hague before the Special Court for Sierra Leone.

For more information, please see:

BBC – New trial for Dutch ‘arms smuggler’ Guus Kouwenhoven – 21 April 2010

AP – Dutch court: New appeal for alleged arms smuggler – 20 April 2010

Radio Netherlands Worldwide – Supreme Court annuls arms dealer’s release – 20 April 2010

Author: Impunity Watch Archive