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Prosecutor wants Dutch war criminal jailed

Publish date: 02 December 2019
Issue Number: 852
Diary: IBA Legalbrief Africa
Category: Criminal

A Dutch war criminal living in Constantia will spend Christmas in Pollsmoor Prison if a Cape Town Magistrate’s Court finds him liable for extradition to the Netherlands where he faces a 19-year jail sentence. According to senior prosecutor Christopher Burke, in a Weekend Argus report, this is likely because it appears Guus Kouwenhoven (77) is liable – no matter what his legal team bring to court. Kouwenhoven ticks all three boxes determining liability Burke argued, handing up a High Court judgment last week that ruled in his favour in another one of his extradition matters that covered similar legal ground. Kouwenhoven was convicted and sentenced ‘finally and irrevocably’ in a Netherlands Court of Appeal for offences including ‘complicity in co-committing violations of the laws and customs of war’ resulting in multiple deaths and rape. ‘These offences … involve, amongst other things murder, (including decapitating civilians, throwing babies against walls and in wells), rape, torture and looting/plundering as set out in article 3 of the Geneva Conventions dated 12 August 1949’. His offences also include gun-running for ex-Liberian President and warlord Charles Taylor between 21 July 2001 and 8 May 2002. Burke highlighted that in SA war crimes are punishable in terms of the Geneva Conventions. ‘SA has jurisdiction over war criminals of any nationality, regardless of the nationality of the victims and no matter where in the world or when the crimes were committed.’ Burke wants the court to ‘issue an order committing Kouwenhoven to prison to await the decision of the Minister of Justice with regard to his surrender to the Netherlands and inform Kouwenhoven that he may within 15 days appeal against such order to the High Court’. Kouwenhoven’s Advocate Anton Katz SC will deliver his counter-argument today.

Full Weekend Argus report