courtesy of  The Liberian Post
 

 


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Relations between Liberia and the Netherlands.
 

 

The Kouwenhoven trial (2005-2017) and the saga of his extradition
2017 - present

 


 

His name is often erroneously spelled as Gus Kouwenhoven, Gus van Kouwenhoven, Guus van Kouwenhoven. His official name is Augustinus Petrus Kouwenhoven aka Guus Kouwenhoven aka - in Liberia -  'Mr. Gus'.
 

Developments in 2020
Update as of March 22, 2020

March 19, 2020:

High Court to hear application by the Southern Africa Litigation Centre to have Kouwenhoven deported

The Western Cape High Court is set to hear an application by the Southern Africa Litigation Centre (SALC) which is seeking an order to set aside a visa granted to a convicted Dutch arms dealer.

Augustinus Petrus Kouwenhoven, 75, is wanted in the Netherlands, where he faces a 19-year jail sentence for crimes against humanity and for selling firearms to former Liberian president Charles Taylor.

He was granted temporary residency in South Africa in 2017.
(...)
The rights group will argue that Kouwenhoven did not disclose his conviction for war crimes when applying for a visa.
(...)
The application was not being opposed by the Home Affairs minister and director-general, who were both cited as respondents alongside Kouwenhoven.

The full article:

High Court to hear application to have Dutch arms dealer Kouwenhoven deported
News24, South Africa - March 19, 2020

Comments of the webmaster:

Also in October last year, the Southern African Litigation Centre requested the Western Cape High Court to cancel the South African residence permit of Guus Kouwenhoven and to turn him over to the Dutch authorities who have asked for his extradition. See article below.


February 21, 2020:

SA is a safe haven for war criminal Kouwenhoven

Cape Town magistrate Ingrid Arntsen said it was with “great regret” she had decided that Dutch arms dealer Augustinus Kouwenhoven could not be extradited to the Netherlands, where he has been sentenced to 19 years behind bars.
(....)
Arntsen said the Extradition Act made it clear that people could be extradited only in relation to offences alleged to have been committed within the territorial jurisdiction of the state requesting extradition.

Because Kouwenhoven (b. 1942) had committed the crimes in Liberia (illegal arms trafficking and responsibility for war crimes) he could not be extradited to the Netherlands.

The decision means that the extremely wealthy  convicted war criminal Kouwenhoven continues to live in his multimillion-rand home on Cape Town’s Atlantic seaboard.

The full article:

SA is a safe haven for Dutch war criminal, magistrate regretfully rules
Times Live, Aron Hyman - February 21, 2020

Comments of the webmaster:

A number of questions emerge after the disappointing ruling of CT magistrate Ingrid Arntsen:

Is there no appeal possible to the decision of the CT magistrate to reject the Dutch extradition request?
Will it be possible to cancel Kouwenhoven's SA visa which he obtained by hiding or lying about his criminal past?
What is the reaction of the Dutch government ?
Is this the end of the Kouwenhoven extradition saga?

After all, if Kouwenhoven manages to continue to live in luxury in his Cape Town mansion this will form an unacceptable insult to the victims of the civil war in Liberia and a big shame for the Dutch authorities who should never have made it possible for Kouwenhoven to leave the Netherlands while being tried.
 

Developments in 2019 - The status of the extradition request of the Dutch authorities
 

Update as of December 8, 2019

Are Kouwenhoven's days in liberty numbered?

November 29: Senior prosecutor Christopher Burke (South Africa) wants Guus Kouwenhoven to be locked up in a Cape Town prison pending the Cape Town Magistrate’s Court's final decision regarding the extradition request of the Dutch authorities who want Kouwenhoven to spend the rest of his life in a Dutch jail. In 2017 a Dutch court found the 77-year old businessman guilty of war crimes in Liberia en Guinea and sentenced him to 19 years in prison.

In his address on Friday, November 29 "(...) Burke highlighted that in South Africa war crimes are punishable in terms of the Geneva Conventions and jurisdiction was not limited to South African nationals, space or time.

(...)

In conclusion, Burke wants the court to “issue an order committing Kouwenhoven to prison to await the decision of the minister of justice and constitutional development with regard to his surrender to the Netherlands and inform Kouwenhoven that he may within 15 days appeal against such order to the High Court”.

Judging by his lengthy opening address, Kouwenhoven’s advocate Anton Katz SC will make a strong case in his counter-argument on Monday (i.e. December 2 - added by the webmaster FVDK). If Friday’s address was anything to go by (referring to the November 29 address - added by the webmaster FVDK), every procedure followed by the State and every document filed will be scrutinised right down to the last semicolon in a bid to keep Kouwenhoven living in the luxury that he is accustomed to".

The full article:


Dutch war criminal to contest extradition
IOL News, Mike Behr - December 1, 2019
 

Update as of October 16, 2019

The Southern African Litigation Centre wants Guus Kouwenhoven expelled from South Africa


On October 14, 2019, the Southern African Litigation Centre requested the Western Cape High Court to cancel the South African residence permit of Guus Kouwenhoven, a Dutch businessman and convicted war criminal, and to turn him over to the Dutch authorities who have asked for his extradition.
In April 2017, Guus Kouwenhoven, 77, was found guilty of war crimes in Liberia and Guinea (Conakry) and sentenced to 19 years in prison by a Dutch court. Kouwenhoven had travelled to Cape Town in 2016 and has since refused to return to his home country.

The centre’s director, Kaajal Ramjathan-Keogh, stated that “As an individual who has been convicted of being complicit in war crimes as well as being a fugitive from justice, Kouwenhoven cannot remain free and at large in South Africa.”, adding " (…) Even though the Netherlands has requested his extradition, the extradition proceedings have been repeatedly postponed and delayed.”

Several leading South African newspapers reported on this new development.

South African Group Wants Convicted Dutch Arms Dealer Expelled
Bloomberg - Pauline Bax - October 14, 2019

Group wants convicted Dutch arms dealer expelled from SA
Fin24 City Press - Bloomberg News, Pauline Bax - October 14, 2019

South African Group Wants Convicted Dutch Arms Dealer Expelled
Daily Maverick / Bloomberg - Pauline Bax - October 14, 2019

Centre asks court to cancel visa of convicted Dutch arms trafficker
Times Live, South Africa - Sunday Times by Ernest Mabuza - October 14, 2019
 

Update as of September 4, 2019

Incredible, but true. Guus Kouwenhoven's lawyers continue to be successful in keeping their notorious and wealthy client out of prison - and not only that: they even managed to obtain his release from house arrest. Instead, Kouwenhoven now has to report to the police three times a week. He is thus allowed to live in his luxurious mansion in one of the wealthy suburbs of Cape Town.

The High Court session scheduled for June 7 (on the legitimacy of Kouwenhoven's arrest in December 2017) was postponed to August 5-6.

A session of the Magistrate's Court on the Dutch extradition request, which on April 12 had been postponed to August 2, was again postponed ,this time to September 20, 2019.

At the time of posting this update it was not known whether the High Court session scheduled for August 5-6 had indeed taken place, if not, why not and till when it had been postponed - or, if yes, what the outcome of the session was.

So far, Kouwenhoven's lawyers have managed to obtain 9 times (!) a postponement of the Court's decision on the extradition request of the Dutch government.

It becomes increasingly difficult not to qualify the Court's handling of the Dutch extradition request as a mockery of justice. 


Update as of April 12, 2019

On April 12, 2019 the Magistrate’s Court in Cape Town again postponed the case. The Netherlands want Guus Kouwenhoven to lock him up for 19 years after a Dutch court found him guilty of illegal arms trafficking in Liberia and responsible for war crimes in Liberia and Guinea (April 2017).

The magistrate postponed the matter until August 2, 2019.

His decision to postpone the case was motivated by his wish to first hear the opinion of the Cape Town High Court on the request of Kouwenhoven’s lawyers, Gary Eisenberg and Anton Katz - among the best lawyers in South Africa - who have questioned the legitimacy of Kouwenhoven’s arrest, in December 2017 (for details, see below).

Katz and Eisenberg were already successful in obtaining several postponements of the extradition case in 2018. "We are becoming incredibly frustrated, but not surprised.”, said prosecutor Christopher Burke, after the Cape Town Magistrate’s Court umpteenth postponement of the case in 2018. Christopher Burke left us puzzling what he meant.

The High Court in Cape Town will decide on the case on June 7, 2019.

There’s a saying: ‘Justice delayed is justice denied.’

To be continued.


Update as of December 18, 2018

Today the Dutch Supreme Court announced that it upheld the conviction of Guus Kouwenhoven who was sentenced to 19 years in prison by a Dutch Court (April 2017, see below) for illegal arms trading in Liberia - in violation of a UN arms embargo - and complicity in war crimes in Liberia and neighbouring Guinea during Liberia's Second Civil War.

The Supreme Court rejected the argument that he, Kouwenhoven, could not be prosecuted by a Dutch court because Liberia had promulgated an amnesty law (2003). The non-prosecution of suspects is acceptable only in 'exceptional cases', the Supreme Court states, e.g. when reconciliation has taken place or in case victims have been compensated. This is not the case.

Also see: December 18, 2018, Washington Post:
Dutch Supreme Court upholds weapon smuggling conviction

Guus Kouwenhoven has managed  to stay out of prison - both in South Africa, where he was arrested in December 2017 and was granted bail enabling him to stay in his luxurious mansion in Cape Town, and the Netherlands, where the Dutch authorities want to lock him up for the rest of his life: 76-year old Guus Kouwenhoven faces a 19 year prison sentence. A grim future for the former timber baron who was once member of the Dutch Quote 500, the 500 richest people in the Netherlands.

Reportedly, a Cape Town Court will (again) decide on the case in.... April 2019. Postponement after postponement, Kouwenhoven's fortune allows him to hire the services of South Africa's best lawyers - and .... more....????

It becomes increasingly difficult to explain the undecisiveness of the Cape Town Magistrates (see below). 
 

Will Guus Kouwenhoven spend the rest of his life in a Dutch prison cell?

The Dutch authorities have requested South Africa to extradite 75-years old Kouwenhoven, on the run since his conviction on April 21, 2017 by a Dutch court. On December 19, Kouwenhoven was granted bail and the case was postponed till January 12, 2018.
On that day, Kouwenhoven briefly appeared in court. The magistrate again decided to postpone the case. Court proceedings resumed on February 27, 2018. However, the case was again postponed till April 20, 2018.

On April 20, 2018, 75-year-old Kouwenhoven was absent from the Cape Town Magistrate’s Court. According to his attorney, Gary Eisenberg, he is in a Cape Town hospital recovering from surgery on a broken leg. Hence, the case was again postponed until May 25.

On June 25, 2018, Kouwenhoven attended the extradition hearing in the Cape Town's Magistrate's Court, in a wheel chair, to underline his fragile health (he is recovering from a broken leg). His lawyers Gary Eisenberg and Anton Katz questioned the legitimacy of his arrest - in December 2017 - and the handling of his case. They managed to obtain (again !) a postponement of the extradition case - to the increasing frustration of the prosecutor.

Later, it was announced that the Cape Town Magistrate's Court has postponed the extradition case to August 15, 2018 because a new magistrate has been assigned.

Will Guus Kouwenhoven ever arrive in the Netherlands to serve his 19-year prisonn sentence? Will he await the final decision of the Cape Town Magistrate Court - or will his expensive lawyers continue to get his extradition case postponed and keep him out of jail? Or will Kouwenhoven flee to neighbouring Congo-Brazzaville, whose president Denis Sassou Nguesso is a good friend?

In any case, for the moment the Dutch fugitive remains at large, his 'blood money' allows him to hire the services of expensive lawyers.

2018

Case six times postponed!
Dutch extradition request still hanging

June 25, 2018: Another postponement
According to a SABC News broadcast the Cape Town Magistrate's Court has postponed the extradition case of fugitive Guus Kouwenhoven to August 15, 2018 because a new magistrate has been assigned.
The good news is that the SABC News broadcast confirms that Justice Minister Michael Masutha has signed Kouwenhoven’s extradition order.
Watch the SABC News broadcast, June 25, 2018

Kouwenhoven has hired South Africa’s best and most expensive lawyers to stay out of prison. He can easily afford this: his ‘business’ in Liberia - illegal arms trafficking and exploitation of the country’s forests - has made him a wealthy man. (Besides, he still owns active logging firms in Congo-Brazzaville.). Kouwenhoven's defense team told the court the matter before the court could not proceed until an urgent application brought before the Cape Town High Court has been finalised.

To be continued….

I will not be surprised to hear on August 15 that the case has again been postponed.
Posted on July 6, 2018

June 25, 2018: War criminal remains free in Cape Town, to prosecutor's frustration.
"We are becoming incredibly frustrated, but not surprised", said prosecutor Christopher Burke, after the Cape Town Magistrate's Court postponed the case on June 25. The magistrate postponed the matter until July 15 and extended bail conditions which stipulate that Kouwenhoven report to Sea Point police  station three times a week and remain under house arrest. Kouwenhoven lives in a 5-storey mansion in one of Cape Town's most expensive suburbs.
Unclear why the case was postponed for the 5th time.
Times Live - June 25, 2018

Case again postponed after successful request of Kouwenhoven's lawyers who say they need more time to study additional documents.
Kouwenhoven under house arrest in his luxurious mansion in Cape Town. Next court session planned for June 25.
Times Live - May 25, 2018

War criminal 'laid up in Cape Town hospital with broken leg' - case postponed until May 25, 2018.
Times Live - April 20, 2018

Case postponed till April 20, 2018 - Justice minister Michael Masutha had yet to sign the extradition order requested by the Netherlands, Cape Town Magistrate Court was told:
Arms dealer Kouwenhoven wins extra two months in luxury CapeTown home
Times Live - February 27, 2018

Dutch arms dealer case postponed in wait of extradition documentation
News24 - January 12, 2018
 

December 19, 2017
A Cape Town Magistrate Court grants Kouwenhoven bail, under strict conditions

'Fugitive' Dutch arms dealer linked to Liberian war granted R1m bail in Cape Town
News24 - December 19, 2017

'Fugitive' Dutch arms dealer spotted driving around Cape Town in luxury cars, court hears
News24 - December 12, 2017

Dutch authorities seek extradition of fugitive Dutch war criminal arrested in Cape Town, SA
News24 - December 8, 2017
 

December 8, 2017
Fugitive Guus Kouwenhoven arrested in Cape Town, South Africa
Fugitive Dutch arms trader linked to Liberian war nabbed in Cape Town
News24 - December 8, 2017


Video of Kouwenhoven's arrest in Cape Town, South Africa, December 8 - YouTube   
 

May 7, 2017
Convicted war criminal Guus Kouwenhoven on the run!
Liberian Perspectives May 7, 2017


April 21, 2017
Guus Kouwenhoven found guilty

Corporate accountability: Dutch court convicts former "Timber baron" of war crimes in Liberia
A specialized account and analysis - by Dieneke de Vos - April 24, 2017

Dutch arms trafficker to Liberia given war crimes conviction:
Guus Kouwenhoven convicted of selling weapons to ex-president Charles Taylor during wars that involved mass atrocities
The Guardian - April 22, 2017

Timber baron sentenced to 19 years for war crimes:
Dutch Court makes legal history by sentencing timber baron Guus Kouwenhoven to 19 years for war crimes and arms smuggling during Liberian civil war
Global Witness - April 21, 2017
 

February 8, 2017
Reopening of Kouwenhoven Trial

Reopening of Kouwenhoven trial in the Netherlands
February 8, 2017



2010

Guus Kouwenhoven on trial again - April 20, 2010

2008
Guus Kouwenhoven still faces a travel ban
March 20, 2008

Guus Kouwenhoven acquitted - comments
March 10, 2008

Dutch Court of Appeal finds insufficient evidence to convict conflict timber trader Guus Kouwenhoven
March 11, 2008 (summary only)
All Africa

2007
Dutch prosecutors have called for a 20-year prison sentence on appeal for a timber trader convicted of selling arms to Liberia’s former president Charles Taylor.

Timber trader Guus Kouwenhoven was already convicted and sentenced to eight years in prison by a lower court. On appeal the prosecution is trying to get a higher sentence and a conviction for war crimes.
Februari 12, 2007
Times (sorry, unfortunately no longer available)

2006
Guus Kouwenhoven found guilty of arms trading in Liberia.The Dutch businessman faces eight year in prison after a Dutch court found him guilty of violating a UN arms embargo on Liberia. He was acquitted of charges of war crimes for lack of evidence.
June 7, 2006
IRIN

Dutchman on trial in Netherlands for West African war crimes. (...) The verdict on Kouwenhoven is expected in June.
May 04, 2006
IRIN

2005
Guus van Kouwenhoven, a Dutch citizen, was arrested in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, on March 18, 2005 and is being prosecuted for committing war crimes against Liberians and violating a U.N. arms embargo.
Source Watch

 

 

Oil man's CV of sleaze
The extraordinary relationship between Guus Kouwenhoven ('The Godfather of Liberia') and Emanuel Shaw II
Mail&Guardian November 14, 1997

The Role Of Liberia's Logging Industry on National And Regional Insecurity

Guus Kouwenhoven's involvement in Liberian Logging Companies: the Oriental Timber Company (OTC) and the Royal Timber Corporation (RTC)

"Gus Kouwenhoven, chairman of the OTC, is also affiliated with other concession companies such as the Royal Timber Corporation (RTC), where he acts as Managing Director. It is probable that timber logged by RTC has several 'aliases' in order to obscure actual origin, production and export.

The illicit trade that Gus Kouwenhoven is involved in through the OTC is referred to in the Sierra Leone Expert Panel Report . His involvement means that it is highly likely that RTC is involved in regional insecurity, financing President Charles Taylor and aiding in the shipment of arms to the RUF in the same way as OTC. A Global Witness investigation to France in late March found an abundance of RTC logs. However, given the possibility of RTC assumed names, the likelihood is that French imports of timber logged by RTC is greater that it appeared. One importer admitted to doing business with RTC while another importer, with several RTC logs in his holding area denied knowledge of both RTC and Gus Kouwenhoven.

RTC's concessions in Lofa County are in areas close to and indeed directly affected by the Guinea conflict. Any logging operations in this area require significant armed protection and, by default, this means only those companies closely connected to Gus Kouwenhoven and allied to Taylor can operate here."
 
(Global Witness, May 2001)

More on Timber Concessions and Concessionaries 

 
 
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