AG advises to uphold conviction Guus K.

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Den Haag, 26 juni 2018

Dutch businessman Guus K.’s conviction of being an accessory to war crimes and participation in violation of UN embargoes imposed on Liberia between 1999 and 2003 should be upheld, Advocate General Hofstee advised the Supreme Court in his opinion rendered today.

The Court of Appeal of Den Bosch previously found the accused guilty of intentionally aiding soldiers of Charles Taylor’s government army in committing war crimes during the Second Liberian Civil War. Guus K., among other things, allegedly used a vessel belonging to one of his logging companies to import shipments of weapons and ammunition, and supplied employees of these companies for the armed conflict in Liberia. These actions also constituted a violation of the embargoes imposed by the United Nations during the period concerned.

In 2006 the District Court of The Hague sentenced the accused to a prison term of eight years for being an accomplice to intentional violations of the arms embargoes, but acquitted him of complicity in war crimes. In a 2008 appeal, the Court of Appeal in The Hague acquitted him of both charges. The Public Prosecutor’s office lodged an appeal in cassation against this judgement, which the Supreme Court ruled to be well-founded in 2010. The Supreme Court quashed the Court of The Hague's judgement and referred the case to the Court of Appeal in Den Bosch. In 2017 the latter court sentenced the accused for both charges to a prison term of 19 years, against which he subsequently lodged an appeal in cassation.

In total, 30 grounds for cassation were submitted against the judgment of the Court of Appeal of Den Bosch. The advisory opinion now issued by Advocate General Hofstee contains an extensive discussion of the complaints submitted, detailing what  requirements a judgement holding that the charges have been proven should meet and addressing the question whether the amnesty that the Liberian government may have granted the accused could impact the Dutch Public Prosecutor’s right to prosecute. The Advocate General concludes that none of the 30 submitted grounds for cassation constitute grounds for reversing the judgement. He therefore advises the Supreme Court to dismiss the appeal in cassation and uphold the conviction of the accused.

No date has yet been set for the Supreme Court's judgement.

The Advocate General's opinion is an independent recommendation to the Supreme Court which it is free to follow or discard. The Advocate General is a member of the Procurator General’s Office of the Supreme Court, which is an autonomous, independent part of the judiciary organisation. It does not fall under the Public Prosecutor’s office.


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