19 years prison sentence for illegal arms trafficking and complicity in war crimes in Liberia and Guinea

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Skip Navigation LinksGerechtshof s-Hertogenbosch > Nieuws > 19 years prison sentence for illegal arms trafficking and complicity in war crimes in Liberia and Guinea
's-Hertogenbosch, 21 april 2017

The Court of Appeal in ’s-Hertogenbosch sentences 74-year old Guus K. to a prison term of 19 years. According to the Court it has been proven that he is an accessory to war crimes, committed by the armed forces of Charles Taylor in Liberia and the Republic of Guinea between 2000 and 2003. K. also provided weapons to this regime. By doing so, he violated the arms embargo imposed by the United Nations.

Business interests

From 1999 until 2003, Guus K. was an international businessman with major interests in logging companies in Liberia. His business interests were entangled with the political, financial and private interests of (the regime of) Charles Taylor, then President of Liberia. K. used the logging companies to import, store and distribute shipments of weapons in Liberia. These weapons were used by Taylor in an armed conflict with rebels, in which during several years defenceless civilians became victims.
Until today, K. 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. He did not want to lose his income from the logging companies and his investments in Liberia.

Serious war crimes

The Court believes it is very important to explain to the victims and survivors, as well as to the international legal community, how serious K.’s actions are considered to be. 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. 

Different judgement

The Court of Appeal in ’s-Hertogenbosch has come to a different judgement than the District Court (2006) and the Court of Appeal (2008) in The Hague. The Court of Appeal in The Hague acquitted K. due to a lack of reliable investigation and evidence. However, since the Supreme Court (2010) referred the case to this Court, many new investigation activities have been carried out. Dozens of witnesses were heard, both in the Netherlands and in foreign countries (including Liberia, the United States and Hong Kong). In addition, inspections were conducted in Liberia and anonymous witnesses were heard by a justice and examining magistrate. Contrary to the evidence produced before the Court of Appeal in the Hague at the time, all this results in a consistent and reliable picture, based on which the Court of Appeal in ‘s-Hertogenbosch considers the facts proven.

Imprisonment

K. is now a man of advanced age, whose health is fragile. Nevertheless, on the basis of a doctor’s opinion, the Court believes 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 K.

Publication of the verdict in English will follow as soon possible.

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