War crime fugitive Guus Kouwenhoven is a step closer to extradition as his latest legal attempts to try to prevent this have failed.

However, observes a Daily Maverick report, it is not yet clear if he will pursue other legal avenues to avoid being forced out of SA to the Netherlands.

Documents based on previous court proceedings relating to Kouwenhoven show 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.’ 

By the time he was sentenced to 19 years in jail in the Netherlands he was in Cape Town (his legal representative Gary Eisenberg previously said this case was under appeal in the European Court of Human Rights).

He has been fighting an extradition bid by the Netherlands since 2017, but yesterday the SCA effectively found that he can be extradited.

One of the court’s key findings also related to where the crimes he was accused of were committed.

 The judgment said: ‘Mr Kouwenhoven argued that the acts alleged to constitute the crimes of which he was convicted by the Dutch court were all committed in Liberia and were therefore not committed “within the jurisdiction” of the Netherlands. Accordingly, he submitted that he was not liable to be extradited to the Netherlands in relation to such crimes.’

However, the court found that Kouwenhoven ‘was convicted by a Dutch court of a crime under Dutch law.’

With regards to the Extradition Act, the SCA ruled ‘that power is not confined to the physical area within which a state exercises jurisdiction, but extends to those matters and persons in relation to which the courts of that state are entitled to adjudicate cases.’ 

Another important issue was whether the DPP was entitled to use a section of the Criminal Procedure Act (CPA) to challenge the extradition magistrate’s decision that Kouwenhoven would not have to be extradited. 

On this, notes the DM report, the SCA found that extradition proceedings ‘are criminal proceedings, but of a very special kind’.

‘Their aim in this case is to have Mr Kouwenhoven brought back before the Dutch courts in order to be compelled to serve his sentence. For those reasons the decision by the magistrate was appealable in terms of (a section) of the CPA and Mr Kouwenhoven’s appeal on this point must fail.’

Full Daily Maverick report

Judgment