Charles Taylor jailed for 19years by a Dutch court for arms trafficking


A Dutch court on has sentenced a businessman to 19 years in jail for arms trafficking and helping atrocities in Liberia and Guinea by military of ex-Liberian pioneer Charles Taylor. 

Guus Kouwenhoven, 74, was discovered guilty of conveying weapons to Taylor's regime between 2000 and 2003 in return for preferential treatment and lucrative contracts for his logging business, infringing upon an UN arms ban. 

"It has been demonstrated that he is an assistant to atrocities, conferred by the military of Charles Taylor in Liberia and the Republic of Guinea," the court said. 

The judges said in their decision the arms were channeled to Taylor's forces locked in "an armed conflict in northern Liberia and right over the fringe in Gueckedou, Guinea." 

Kouwenhoven's "business interests were trapped with the political, budgetary and private interests of Charles Taylor. He utilized his logging organizations to import, store and appropriate shipments of weapons in Liberia," the court said.


Taylor, a former warlord, sparked a 13-year civil war in his country when he led a rebellion in 1989 to oust President Samuel Doe, which deteriorated into one of Africa's bloodiest conflicts.
Kouwenhoven supplied the rebels with guns and ammunition, and "during several years defenceless civilians became victims," the court said.
The Sierra Leone civil war claimed 120,000 lives between 1991 and 2002.
The Dutch media gave Kouwenhoven's full name, as under Dutch privacy laws the court can refer to him only as Guus K.
"Businessmen like K., who enter into commercial activities with regimes like the one of Charles Taylor, must be made aware that by doing so they can get involved in serious war crimes," the appeals court in the southern Dutch town of Den Bosch said.
Kouwenhoven "has always denied the facts and has not provided any clarity about his motives. He does not seem to have acted for political or ideological reasons, but for profit," it added.
  'Serious war crimes'  
The owner of two of the biggest lumber companies in Liberia, Kouwenhoven was close to Taylor and in his initial case was sentenced to eight years in prison in June 2006, but was freed on appeal in March 2008.
In April 2010, the Dutch Supreme Court overturned his acquittal, ruling that the appeal judges had not given sufficient reason for not hearing the testimony of two new anonymous prosecution witnesses.
Despite his advanced years and fragile health, the Den Bosch court said Friday that doctors believed "he is able to undergo detention". 
"These are serious war crimes which have strongly shocked legal order. Therefore -- in accordance with the demand of the prosecution - the court orders the imprisonment" of Kouwenhoven.
After fleeing to Nigeria in 2003, Taylor was arrested in 2006 and sentenced by an international UN-backed court in The Hague to 50 years in prison in May 2012. 
Two ruinous back-to-back civil wars in Liberia pulverised the west African state between 1989 and 2003, killing 250,000 people.

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