Kouwenhoven’s arrest may have been premature

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Lawyers for convicted Dutch weapons smuggler, Guus Kouwenhoven, say his arrest in Cape Town last week may have been premature.

The 75-year-old was convicted and sentenced in a Dutch court to 19 years in prison for his involvement in war crimes in Liberia.

The court found that he smuggled weapons for Charles Taylor’s regime.

Kouwenhoven is applying for bail in the Cape Town Magistrate’s Court.

Kouwenhoven’s lawyers have argued that the South African government is not in possession of compliant extradition documents.

He is also refuting the state’s submission that he is a flight risk.

The defence says that Kouwenhoven has co-operated fully with South African and Dutch authorities since his conviction in the Netherlands.

Defence attorney Gary Eisenberg elaborates: “After his provisional arrest, the Dutch authorities have to make available the full extradition request as a complaint bundle. It has to comply with South African law within 40 days of the provisional arrest. A lot of time has moved on, apparently South Africa has received an extradition request months and months ago and was sent back for being non-complaint.

The Dutch national is believed to have used his timber companies as a front to sell weapons to former Liberian president Charles Taylor, in violation of a United Nations embargo in the early 2000s.”