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For Smuggling Arms To Liberia, Guus Kouwenhoven Gets 19 Years
Date Uploaded: Apr 25, 2017

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For Smuggling Arms To Liberia, Guus Kouwenhoven Gets 19 Years

MONROVIA, April 24 (LINA) - An international timber trader who used his business as cover to smuggle weapons into West Africa in defiance of a United Nations arms embargo has been sentenced to 19 years in prison.

Guus Kouwenhoven, 74, was convicted by the Dutch appeal court of being an accessory to war crimes and arms trafficking for selling weapons to Liberia’s then president Charles Taylor during civil wars that involved mass atrocities, the use of child soldiers and sex slavery.

He denies the charges, according to media reports.

Kouwenhoven, whose past exploits include deportation from the US in the 1970s for trying to sell stolen Rembrandt paintings, was not in court for the ruling.

The campaign group Global Witness, which investigates corruption and environmental despoliation, said it believed the case was the first war crimes conviction for a businessman profiting from conflict resources.

Global Witness gathered evidence about his company, the Oriental Timber Company, which Dutch prosecutors cited when they initially brought charges against him more than a decade ago.

The case against Kouwenhoven, who was born in Rotterdam, has been fought for years through the Dutch courts, reaching the Supreme Court before eventually being sent back to the appeal court for a retrial.

The Oriental Timber Company gained trading concessions from Taylor when he was president of Liberia at a time when conflict between rival militias spilled over into neighboring Sierra Leone, claiming hundreds of thousands of lives, the reports said.

Shipments for Kouwenhoven’s timber operation in Liberia carried caches of hidden arms between 2000 and 2003, according to the reports.

Kouwenhoven “has right up to the present day denied the facts and not given any clarity about his motives,” the reports added.

Taylor, who was subsequently extradited to face trial at an international tribunal in The Hague, was sentenced in 2012 to 50 years for aiding and abetting war crimes in neighboring Sierra Leone.

He is currently serving his prison term in a British jail.

LINA PR/JGT/PTK

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