Liberia, on the west coast of Africa, is the continent's oldest republic. Following a coup d'état in 1980, civil war broke out in the late 1980s and early 1990s. International intervention in 1997 ushered in a period of relative calm and Charles Taylor came to power. From 1999 to 2003, however, the country again disintegrated into conflict.
One case was tried in the Netherlands that involved crimes committed in Liberia in 2001-2003.
Case against Guus K.
"OTC shipped illegal arms into Liberia. The arms entered the country via the port of Buchanan, from where they were brought to Charles Taylor's house, White Flower, in Monrovia. I was there on several occasions when the arms were distributed. OTC imported these arms in exchange for wood at a low cost. (...) The arms transports took place in secret, because the international community had declared an arms embargo in relation to Liberia. The suspect was the person who imported the arms." - (Quotation from a witness statement in the case against Guus K.)
K., a Dutch national, was a business man involved in the wood industry in Liberia. An investigation into K.'s activities was launched in February 2004, in response to the publication of various reports and media accounts about arms trading to Liberia over the preceding years. K. was named in these reports. He was suspected of involvement in international arms trading and of participation in war crimes committed by Liberian troops or militia forces. In June 2006, the District Court convicted K. of repeated violation of sanctions legislation, but acquitted him of involvement in war crimes. The Court of Appeal in The Hague then acquitted K. of all charges, but this ruling was overturned by the Supreme Court of the Netherlands.
In December 2010 the re-examination of the case of Guus K. began at the Appeals Court in 's Hertogenbosch. For this retrial extra research was done: witnesses were heard, both in the Netherlands and abroad (including in Liberia, the United States and Hong Kong) and surveys were held in Liberia. Unlike in the first appeal, a consistent and reliable picture emerged proving that Guus K. was guilty of complicity in war crimes committed by armed forces of Charles Taylor in Liberia and the Republic of Guinea between 2000 and 2003 and of supplying arms and ammunition to (the regime of) Charles Taylor in violation of weapon embargoes set by the United Nations. The Court sentenced K. to 19 years imprisonment.