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.
South Africa's Supreme Court of Appeal dismisses
On September 22, 2021 the Supreme
Court of Appeal of South Africa dismissed Kouwenhoven's appeal. As one newspaper
reported: 'The South African Government is now free to extradite Mr.
Kouwenhoven to the Netherlands.' (African Star, September 22, 2021, see
However, the Supreme Court of
Appeal of South Africa notes in its Judgement (page 3, note 2): 'He
(Kouwenhoven - note of the webmaster FVDK) has lodged an appeal to the European
Court of Human Rights, which it appears is still pending.'
It's odd that a man who has been found
guilty of the illegal importation of arms which
were used to kill innocent civilians in Africa, tries to save his skin with an
appeal to the European Court of Human Rights!
The question now emerges: Will
South African autorities finally put Kouwenhoven on a plane to Amsterdam, will
the convicted war criminal flee from justice or will Kouwenhoven's expensive
lawyers be once more successfull in delaying justice?
Only time can tell...
Supreme Court of Appeal of South Africa dismisses Kouwenhoven's appeal in two
Source: Southern Africa Litigation Centre
September 22, 2021
Former Associate Of Charles Taylor Loses Extradition Appeals in South Africa
Source: African Star
September 22, 2021
An article published in a South African newspaper in
August 2021 illustrates Kouwenhoven's apparent arrogance:
Judge ridicules claim that Guus Kouwenhoven’s arrest was ‘undignified’, saying
Dutch war criminal even showed cops around his five-storey home
Source: Daily Maverick, South Africa
August 27, 2021
Update as of December 30, 2020
The year 2020 saw three important developments,
yet Kouwenhoven still manages to stay out of prison, both in South Africa, where
he fled, and the Netherlands, where he was convicted for illegal arms trading
and war crimes in Liberia and Guinea and sentenced to 19 years in jail.
In February the Cape Town Magistrate Court ruled in Kouwenhoven's favor denying
the extradition request of the Dutch authorities. In November, however, South
Africa canceled the visitor's visa granted to the Dutch war criminal, and in
December the Western Cape High Court ruled in favor of an appeal of the State
against the February decision of the Cape Town Magistrate Court denying the
extradition request. Consequently, Kouwenhoven may still face extradition.
Latest development (December
The extradition battle between
Western Cape’s Director of Public Prosecutions, via Advocate Christopher Burke,
and Kouwenhoven's legal team, consisting of the country's best and most
expensive lawyers, made a sensational turn on December 23, 2020 with the ruling
of the Cape Town High Court that the State's appeal had succeeded.
“It follows that the [Cape Town Magistrates’ Court] erred in law in finding that
in terms of [a section] of the Extradition Act Mr Kouwenhoven was only liable to
be surrendered for extradition if the crimes for which he was convicted by the
Dutch court were committed within the territory of the Netherlands,” the
See the full official text of the high court ruling below.
Hence, Kouwenhoven's extradition is still on the
The next step should be that the Cape Town Magistrates' Court
implements the high court's ruling. However, it is expected that Kouwenhoven's
lawyers will again raise objections and will try to delay the implementation
process including the arrest and extradition of their extremely wealthy client.
Extradition of Dutch war criminal Guus Kouwenhoven back on the cards
Daily Maverick - Caryn Dolley, December 24, 2020
South Africa: Western Cape High Court, Cape Town -
Director of Public Prosecutions, Western Cape v Kouwenhoven; Kouwenhoven v
Director of Public Prosecutions, Western Cape and Others (A181/2020) 
ZAWCHC 185 (23 December 2020)
The Ruling (official version) as published by the Southern African Legal
Information Institute (SALII) click
Press release of the Southern African Litigation (November 2020):
South Africa has cancelled the visitor's visa of Guus
He has been declared an "undesirable person".
In 2019 the Southern African Litigation Centre
(SALC) launched an application in the Western Cape High Court challenging the
decision of the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) to grant a visitor’s visa to
Guus Kouwenhoven. (see below). SALC also applied to the High Court to review the
DHA’s failure to declare Kouwenhoven an undesirable person under the Immigration
Act. An undesirable person does not qualify for a visa or a permit under the
Following a hearing of the case on 27 October 2020, the Department of Home
Affairs on 5 November 2020 declared Kouwenhoven undesirable in terms of sections
30(1)(f) and (g) of the Immigration Act, and notified him of the decision to
cancel his visitor’s visa. Kouwenhoven can now appeal the decision by the DHA.
If he fails to make representations, within ten days, the cancellation of his
visa will become effective.
Comments of the webmaster: This is an extremely important step. Since his arrest
in Cape Town in December 2017, Guus Kouwenhoven has managed to stay out of
prison despite an extradition request of the authorities of the Netherlands
where he has been sentenced to 19 years in prison for complicity in war crimes
committed in Liberia and Guinea during the presidency of Charles Taylor.
PRESS RELEASE FROM THE SOUTHERN AFRICA LITIGATION
CENTRE AND LAWYERS FOR HUMAN RIGHTS
SOUTH AFRICA’S DEPARTMENT OF HOME AFFAIRS DECLARES KOUWENHOVEN AN UNDESIRABLE
Southern Africa Litigation Centre v Minister of Home Affairs and Others, Case
No. 18052/2019, High Court, Western Cape Division, Cape Town
For the full text of the SALC press release which
also contains the background to Kouwenhoven's conviction
Also see twitter @kaaja1 (Kaajal Ramhatjan-Keogh)
More articles on the same topic:
South Africa to Deport Dutch Arms Dealer Tied to Charles Taylor
Bloomberg News - Anthony Squazzin, November 12, 2020
Lengthy legal processes prevent ‘undesirable’ Dutch arms dealer Guus Kouwenhoven
from being kicked out of South Africa
Daily Maverick - Caryn Dolley, November 13, 2020
South Africa's Department of Home Affairs rescinds visa of war crimes fugitive
Guus Kouwenhoven, embarrassing the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative
Daily Maverick, Op-Ed by Andrew Feinstein and Arnauld Labrousse, November 13,
August 17-18, 2020:
The SALC (Southern Africa Litigation Centre) tweeted:
"On Tuesday August 18 2020, SALC was in court arguing for the cancellation of
the visa granted to Guus Kouwenhoven. However, this hearing has again been
postponed. Hopefully I new date wil be set for September. More information will
be shared once a new date has been allocated ."
Source: @Follow_SALC, on August 17 and 18 , 2020.
@AndrewFeinstein tweeted on August 17, 2020:
Here is SALC and my background piece on Dutch arms dealer Guus Kouwenhoven,
convicted of complicity in Charles Taylor’s war crimes, who currently has safe
haven in South Africa. On 18 August SALC will endeavour to have his visa
Why is South Africa providing a haven for an arms dealer convicted of war
Andrew Feinstein's article was published 6 months ago.
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
SA is a safe haven for war criminal Kouwenhoven
February 21, 2020:
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
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.
in 2019 - The status of the extradition request of the Dutch authorities
Update as of December 8, 2019
Are Kouwenhoven's days in liberty
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
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
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
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
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.
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
The good news is that the SABC News broadcast confirms that
Justice Minister Michael Masutha has signed Kouwenhoven’s extradition order.
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
To be continued….
I will not be surprised to hear on August 15 that the case has again been
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
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
Times Live - February 27, 2018
Dutch arms dealer case postponed in wait of extradition
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 -
May 7, 2017
Convicted war criminal Guus Kouwenhoven on the run!
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
Guus Kouwenhoven on trial again -
Guus Kouwenhoven still faces a travel ban
Guus Kouwenhoven acquitted - comments
Dutch Court of Appeal finds insufficient
evidence to convict conflict timber trader Guus Kouwenhoven
March 11, 2008 (summary
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)
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
Dutchman on trial in Netherlands for West African
war crimes. (...) The verdict on Kouwenhoven is expected in June.
May 04, 2006
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.
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
Guus Kouwenhoven's involvement in Liberian Logging
Companies: the Oriental Timber Company (OTC) and the Royal Timber
"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
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."
Witness, May 2001)
More on Timber Concessions and Concessionaries