On 20 April 2010 the Supreme Court of the Netherlands (Hoge Raad) delivered its decision in the appeal by the public prosecutor in the case of Guus K., The decision quashes a decision of the Court of Appeal that acquitted Guus K. on charges related to supplying arms to Liberia. The Supreme Court held that a decision by the Hague Court of Appeal to not hear two anonymous witnesses was insufficiently motivated.
In 2006 the District Court of The Hague sentenced Guus K. to 8 year’s imprisonment for violating prohibitions on the supple of arms to Liberia between 2001 and 2003. Both the defendant and the public prosecutor appealed against the sentence, and on 10 March 2008 the Court of Appeal acquitted the suspect of all charges.
The public prosecution lodged an appeal against the verdict at the Dutch Supreme Court. It argued that the Court of Appeal’s decision to turn down the request to hear two witnesses (referred to as “A03” and “A04”) was not sufficiently motivated.
The Supreme Court quashed the judgment of the Court of Appeal and now refers the Court of Appeal of ‘s-Hertogenhosch for a new examination and judgment. The Court of Appeal of ‘s-Hertogenbosch will now re-examine the case, taking into account the judgment of the Supreme Court.
The trial against Guus Kouwenhoven, a Dutch businessman, started at the District Court of The Hague on 24 April 2006. He was accused of having delivered arms to Liberia and of being involved in war crimes committed in that country. Kouwenhoven was also charged with having breached the embargo decreed by the United Nations (UN) with respect to Liberia. On 7 June 2006, the District Court sentenced Kouwenhoven to eight years’ imprisonment for violating the Dutch weapons embargo and for actions prohibited in view of the sanctions on the Taylor regime pronounced by the United Nations. Both the Defence and the Prosecution appealed the District Court’s judgement.
The Dutch Court of Appeal overturned the 2006 conviction by the District Court of The Hague. In its judgement, which was made public on 10 March 2008, the Court of Appeal acquitted Kouwenhoven of all charges – including allegations that he had participated in war crimes allegedly committed by Liberian troops and militias from 2000 to 2002.