Arms dealer's arrest 'rushed'

War criminal claims Dutch extradition request not compliant with SA law

14 December 2017 - 06:34 By Farren Collins
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Image: Gallo Images/iStockphoto

Lawyers of convicted war criminal Augustine Kouwenhoven believe their client's arrest on Friday was rushed and made without a compliant extradition bundle from Dutch authorities.

Responding to the state's submissions in Kouwenhoven's bail application at the Cape Town Magistrate's Court on Thursday, attorney Gary Eisenberg said an earlier extradition request from the Dutch government was turned down for being "noncompliant".

"After his provisional arrest the Dutch authorities have to make available the extradition request, which has to comply with South African law. South Africa received an extradition request months ago and it was sent back for being noncompliant," said Eisenberg.

The defence also told the court their client was not a flight risk and had "co-operated fully with all authorities" even before his arrest.

Kouwenhoven is facing extradition to the Netherlands where he is expected to serve 19 years in prison after he was convicted of illegal arms dealing and war crimes by the International Criminal Court in April.

In an affidavit read in court on Tuesday, Kouwenhoven claimed that since his conviction at The Hague he had been communicating with the Department of Justice in "anticipation of receipt of a possible request for my extradition from the Dutch government".

The 75-year-old, who used his international timber trading business as a cover to smuggle weapons into West Africa, provided the court with a long list of medical conditions, including scarring on his lungs and recent surgery for a sinus condition, which he claimed made him unfit to travel back to his homeland or remain in jail.

"I am mentally, emotionally and physically dependent upon third parties and external care and assistance," he said.

Kouwenhoven supplied weapons to former Liberian president Charles Taylor, who is serving a 50-year sentence in a British prison for aiding war crimes in Sierra Leone.

He lives in South Africa with his Ivorian wife and their two-year-old twins.

The family live opulently, owning Atlantic Seaboard homes worth R150-million, exotic cars and a luxury spa business in the Cape Town CBD.

Kouwenhoven's first conviction came in 2006 when the ICC sentenced him to eight years for participating in war crimes committed by Liberian forces between 2000 and 2002.

The decision was set aside after his successful appeal in 2008.

In 1977 Kouwenhoven was deported from the US after he was linked to a man who attempted to sell stolen Rembrandt paintings to an undercover FBI agent.

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