Judges quash acquittal of 'blood timber' Dutchman

20th April 2010, Comments 0 comments

Dutch judges on Tuesday quashed the acquittal of a trader accused of doing deals with the regime of Liberian ex-president and war crimes suspect Charles Taylor, a court statement said.

"The Supreme Court quashes the judgment of the court of appeal in The Hague and refers the case to the court of appeal of 's-Hertogenbosch (in the centre) for a new examination and judgment," said the statement.

Prosecutors accused timber trader Guus Kouwenhoven of supplying AK-47 assault rifles and anti-tank weapons to Taylor's regime between 2000 and 2003, in violation of a UN arms embargo.

Taylor is standing trial in The Hague before the Special Court for Sierra Leone on 11 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity stemming from the brutal 1991-2001 civil war in neighbouring Sierra Leone.

Kouwenhoven, who headed Liberia's two biggest logging companies, was said to be part of ex-warlord Taylor's inner circle.

He was sentenced in June 2006 to eight years' imprisonment, but this was overturned on appeal in March 2008 and he was acquitted.

The Supreme Court said Tuesday that appeals judges had been wrong to reject a prosecution request to have the evidence of two new witnesses heard.

"Under the circumstances, the court should have left the public prosecution more opportunity to have these witnesses heard," said the statement.

© 2010 AFP

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