Fri, 22 Nov 2019

The Southern African Litigation Centre asked a court to cancel the South African residence permit of a Dutch businessman and convicted arms trafficker who's being sought by authorities in the Netherlands.

Guus Kouwenhoven, 77, was handed a 19-year prison sentence by a Dutch court in 2017 for smuggling weapons for former Liberian strongman Charles Taylor during that country's civil war. The conviction was the result of a retrial following an earlier acquittal in 2008.

Kouwenhoven's case garnered attention in the Netherlands because he was among the first to be prosecuted for involvement with rights abuses on another continent. He travelled to Cape Town in 2016 and has since refused to return.

"As an individual who has been convicted of being complicit in war crimes as well as being a fugitive from justice, Kouwenhoven cannot remain free and at large in South Africa," the litigation centre said in an emailed statement Monday. "Even though the Netherlands has requested his extradition, the extradition proceedings have been repeatedly postponed and delayed."

The Western Cape High Court should cancel the visa of Kouwenhoven, who's a fugitive of justice, and force him to return, the centre said.

Kouwenhoven's attorney, Gary Eisenberg, hasn't received the documents yet and as such can't immediately comment, a spokeswoman at Eisenberg's offices said.

Charles Taylor, who played a key role in the Liberian civil war but was convicted for crimes against humanity committed in neighbouring Sierra Leone, has been serving a 50-year sentence in a UK prison since 2012.

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