Heated discussions about action taken against Dutch war criminal Guus Kouwenhoven in SA developed during a SCA hearing on Friday.

Kouwenhoven, arrested in Cape Town in December 2017 because the Netherlands wants him extradited there, has approached the court to take on, among others, the Western Cape’s DPP and the Minister of Justice & Correctional Services.

His legal problems, which link to both the Netherlands and SA, stretch back to 2017, according to a Daily Maverick report.

On Friday, among several intricate legal issues discussed at the SCA was whether the Netherlands could have him extradited for crimes not committed there, and his arrest in Cape Town in December 2017.

Michael Bishop, who is on the legal team representing Kouwenhoven, elaborated on the legalities relating to extradition and interpretation of the Act.

Darryl Cooke, who is also on Kouwenhoven’s legal team, focused on his arrest.

He said a provisional request for Kouwenhoven’s arrest was issued and he was subsequently detained during a ‘dawn raid’ involving 12 police officers.

However, Judge Malcolm Wallis was scathing about this description, saying: ‘Unless the climate of Cape Town has undergone a drastic change, 7.30am is hardly a dawn raid in the middle of summer.’

Cooke argued that Kouwenhoven’s arrest had not been dignified, noting neighbours had congregated on the street outside (presumably of Kouwenhoven’s luxury home), Kouwenhoven had been transported to a police station in a police van and his electronic devices had been seized.

Cooke said it could have instead been arranged that Kouwenhoven go to a police station or a Magistrates’ Court on his own steam where the arrest could have been carried out.

Cooke also focused on the granting of Kouwenhoven’s arrest warrant, saying the magistrate who did so should have ‘forthwith’ supplied particulars relating to this to the Minister of Justice for consideration.

His point, notes the DM report, was that even though an arrest warrant may have been lawfully issued for Kouwenhoven, the magistrate’s failure to provide provisions to the Minister meant it became unlawful.

Details about Kouwenhoven’s past legal issues in SA are contained in a December 2020 Western Cape High Court judgment.

It said that in April 2017 a Dutch court convicted him ‘of the illegal supply of weapons to the regime of Charles Taylor in Liberia and Guinea and of participating in war crimes in those countries’.

‘The crimes of which he was convicted were not committed within the territory of the Netherlands. They were, though, crimes in respect of which the Netherlands under its law exercised extraterritorial jurisdiction,’ the judgment said.

‘Mr Kouwenhoven continues to maintain his innocence and complains that the proceedings pursuant to which he was convicted were unfair.’

Kouwenhoven was in Cape Town by the time he was sentenced to 19 years in jail in the Netherlands. He was arrested in the city in December 2017 because the Netherlands wanted him extradited there.

Since then, the extradition argument has wound its way through the courts, and the High Court decision confirming his extradition is being challenged in the SCA.

Full Daily Maverick report