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Dutch court overturns conviction of businessman in Liberia arms-dealing case

[JURIST] A Dutch appeals court Monday overturned the conviction of Dutch businessman Guus Kouwenhoven [BBC profile] for violating a UN embargo against the government of former Liberian President Charles Taylor [BBC profile; JURIST news archive]. In 2006, a lower court convicted [JURIST report] Kouwenhoven of violating the embargo, but acquitted him of war crimes, ruling that he did not have direct knowledge of the atrocities committed during the Liberian civil war. The appeals court cited insufficient evidence and found that some witness testimony was contradictory. AP has more. BBC News has additional coverage.

Kouwenhoven's Oriental Trading Co. had been accused of trading guns for timber [Radio Netherlands report] to assist Taylor in destabilizing Sierra Leone in a bid to gain access to diamond stockpiles. The UN Security Council released a 2001 report [PDF text] banning Kouwenhoven from traveling, accusing him of breaching Security Council Resolution 1343 [PDF text], the embargo against the Taylor regime, and of being "someone who supported the efforts of ex-President Taylor in destabilising Sierra Leone to gain illegal access to its diamonds."

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