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Sierra Leone Welcomes Arrest Alleged War Criminal


Sierra Leone Court Welcomes Arrest Of Dutch Man Accused Of War Crimes

The prosecutor of the Special Court for Sierra Leone today welcomed the recent arrest of a Dutch businessman on charges of committing war crimes against Liberians and violating a United Nations arms embargo as "a major blow against Western profiteers who enrich themselves on the suffering of Africans."

"I have long been aware of Gus Kouwenhoven's criminal activity, his involvement in (former Liberian President) Charles Taylor's inner circle and direct support for Taylor's war machine," Prosecutor David Crane said.

The trial in a Netherlands courtroom of Mr. Kouwenhoven, who was arrested on Friday, would spotlight the roles of arms traffickers and international financiers, as well as the abuse of West Africa's resources, he said.

Mr. Crane added that he had not collected the evidence to place Mr. Kouwenhoven among those bearing "greatest responsibility" for international crimes during Sierra Leone's civil conflict, but he had instructed his Special Court investigators to cooperate with the Dutch authorities.

Former President Taylor remains wanted by the Special Court to face a 17-count indictment for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The Special Court is the world's first hybrid international war crimes tribunal, and was established by an agreement in January 2002 between the United Nations and the Republic of Sierra Leone. It is headquartered in the capital Freetown.

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