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Dutchman gets 8 years for Liberia arms smuggling

Written by: Staff
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THE HAGUE, June 7 (Reuters) A Dutch businessman allied to former Liberian President Charles Taylor was sentenced to eight years in jail for arms smuggling in Liberia but acquitted of war crimes charges, news agency ANP reported today.

Prosecutors had demanded a 20-year prison sentence for Guus Kouwenhoven and a 450,000 euros fine because of the profits they said he made from illegal arms sales in violation of a U.N. arms embargo between 2001-2003.

Kouwenhoven, 63, was acquitted of charges of war crimes relating to Liberia's civil war that spilled across borders, killed a quarter of a million people and spawned a generation of child soldiers.

Known as ''Mr Gus'' in Liberia, the former executive of the Oriental Timber Corp. and the Royal Timber Co. was accused of selling arms in exchange for timber concessions in Liberia, dubbed the ''blood timber'' trade by campaigners.

Arrested in Rotterdam in March last year, Kouwenhoven said at the start of his trial in April that he was not guilty of war crimes and gun smuggling charges.

Kouwenhoven's conviction follows the sentencing of Frans van Anraat in December, a Dutch businessman sentenced to 15 years in jail for selling chemicals to Iraq that were used to carry out gas attacks.

REUTERS SHB PC1903

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