'Fugitive' Dutch arms dealer linked to Liberian war granted R1m bail in Cape Town

Cape Town – A Dutch arms dealer, convicted of crimes against humanity and for selling firearms to former Liberian president Charles Taylor, has been granted bail in Cape Town under strict conditions.

Augustinus Petrus Kouwenhoven, 75, who the State has argued is a fugitive from justice and a flight risk, will have to report to the Sea Point police station daily.

He has also been placed under house arrest and his passport is to be handed in.

Kouwenhoven appeared in the Cape Town Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday where Magistrate Vusi Mhlanga granted his release on bail.

"The applicant has already been convicted, he's not someone presumed to be innocent," Mhlanga said, while reading out his ruling.

He listed several concerns he had.

'Not forthcoming'

"This court is concerned Mr Kouwenhoven hasn't been forthcoming about disclosing his assets and business interests," Mhlanga said.

Mhlanga said it appeared Kouwenhoven had assets, most in his wife's name, worth more than R100m outside of the Netherlands, where he may be extradited to, as he faces jail time there.

He said Kouwenhoven also appeared not to have any ties to the Netherlands, aside from being from there.

Factors considered in whether or not to grant him bail included looking at the travel documents Kouwenhoven possessed and the likelihood of him fleeing the country.

'Poorly guarded borders'

"The court is also mindful of the fact that the borders of this country are poorly guarded," Mhlanga said.

He was worried that Kouwenhoven was said to be friends with the president of Congo Brazzaville and there were no extradition agreements between this country and the Netherlands.

Kouwenhoven was arrested in the upmarket suburb of Fresnaye nearly two weeks ago.

He faces possible extradition to the Netherlands, where he faces a 19-year jail sentence, for crimes committed in Liberia between 1999 and 2002.

Following a series of legal battles, including appealing convictions, Kouwenhoven was in April 2017 convicted in the Netherlands of crimes against humanity and selling firearms to Taylor.

Kouwenhoven plans to appeal his conviction.

During his bail application last week, he had said, via an affidavit, that he was seriously ill and that being detained in custody for a length of time could prove fatal.

READ: Detaining me longer could kill me - Dutch arms dealer arrested in Cape Town

Kouwenhoven had said he had a life expectancy of three years.

He said he was too ill to travel and needed help to care for himself daily.

However, in an affidavit, Interpol investigator Warrant Officer Willem Jacobus van der Heever, had said that police investigators had seen Kouwenhoven driving around Cape Town in his luxury vehicles.

READ: 'Fugitive' Dutch arms dealer spotted driving around Cape Town in luxury cars, court hears

It emerged during the bail application last week that Kouwenhoven, his wife, and two-year-old twin children stayed in a R90m mansion overlooking the Atlantic Seaboard.

A second home of theirs had been sold for R12m. His wife also owned a luxury spa.

State advocate Christopher Burke had argued that Kouwenhoven had set up an opulent life in Cape Town that was funded with "blood money".

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