Briefing Document / Feb. 8, 2011

Global Witness welcomes Dutch court’s decision to hear new prosecution witnesses in Kouwenhoven case

A Dutch appeal court decided this week to hear prosecution witnesses that were not permitted to be called in the previous court proceedings in the trial of the Dutch timber trader Guus Kouwenhoven.

Originally convicted in 2007 of breaching the UN arms embargo on Liberia, Kouwenhoven was acquitted by the appeal court in 2008. This acquittal was subsequently overturned by the Supreme Court last year and the trial re-opened in December 2010. Kouwenhoven still faces charges of war crimes and illegal arms trading.  

“After his acquittal in 2008, many people thought Kouwenhoven was off the hook. On the contrary, his case is still ongoing, and we welcome the fact that the court has allowed these witnesses to appear. Kouwenhoven and the Oriental Timber Corporation played a leading role in Liberia during Taylor's regime, and they need to answer for it. We hope that the original conviction will be upheld” said Patrick Alley, Director of Global Witness.  

For more information, please contact: Andie Lambe on +44 78 0961 6545 or Blanka Geszti on +44 79 1251 7126



Kouwenhoven was head of the Oriental Timber Corporation (OTC) in Liberia during the brutal regime of ex -President Charles Taylor. OTC, also known as ‘Old Taylor's Children' or ‘Only Taylor Chops', was the most notorious logging company in the country and dominated the Liberian timber industry with 1.6 million hectares of concessions. Global Witness first documented the involvement of Kouwenhoven in state-sanctioned illegal logging and arms trafficking in its 2001 report, Taylor Made. Global Witness testified before the court and submitted extensive evidence highlighting the role his timber business played in fuelling the brutal conflict in Liberia.