Dutch 'blood timber' businessman gets 19 years for Liberian crimes

Dutch 'blood timber' businessman gets 19 years for Liberian crimes
  1. Dutch 'blood timber' businessman gets 19 years for Liberian crimes
    Dutch timber trader Guus Kouwenhoven was convicted on Friday as an accessory to war crimes for selling weapons to Liberia's then-President Charles Taylor between 2000 and 2003 in violation of a U.N.…

THE HAGUE: Dutch timber trader Guus Kouwenhoven was convicted on Friday as an accessory to war crimes for selling weapons to Liberia's then-President Charles Taylor between 2000 and 2003 in violation of a U.N. embargo.

The 74-year-old Kouwenhoven, who denied wrongdoing, was sentenced to 19 years in prison.

The businessman, known in Liberia as "Mister Gus," ran two timber companies in Liberia between 2000 and 2003 and used them to smuggle weapons into the country, judges at the Den Bosch appeals court found.

At the time, the country was in the grip of a civil war between Charles Taylor's government forces and several rebel groups.

"These weapons were used by Taylor in an armed conflict with rebels, in which over a period of many years countless civilians were victimized," judges said in a written summary of their ruling.

Kouwenhoven "has right up to the present day denied the facts and not given any clarity about his motives".

Judges said they hoped that his case would serve as an example to others that do business with government's like Taylor's "that they can thereby become involved in serious war crimes".

Liberia's string of conflicts since the 1990s left an estimated 250,000 people dead. Thousands more were mutilated and raped and all sides in the conflict…

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