No Manhunt For Brownell As He Fails to Provide Testimony in Gus Van Kouwenhoven Prosecution

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Monrovia – Green Advocate’s Alfred Brownell claims to be in hiding for his safety as the Government of Liberia, according to him, has been pursuing him to have him arrested due to his refusal to assist the government’s prosecution team.

Legal pundits have told the FrontPageAfrica that Brownell’s failure to show up for the deposition may be either due to he being tampered with by Gus Van Kouwenhoven or he might have provided false information to the Government of The Kingdom of Netherlands.

However, documents obtained by the FrontPage Africa reveals that Atty. Brownell after assisting the Government of the Kingdom of Netherlands obtain statements and affidavits on the operations of Gus Van Kouwenhoven his Oriental Timber Company in Liberia (OTC), refused to give deposition before the court despite a Writ of Subpoena.

Brownell and his Green Advocates in 2004 assisted the Government of the Kingdom of Netherland to obtain statements and affidavit on the operations of OTC which was ran by businessman Gus Van Kouwenhoven.

Kouwenhoven was convicted in 2006 by the Netherlands for allegedly selling weapons to former President Charles Taylor’s government from 2001 to 2003 in exchange for logging rights.

The weapons he allegedly smuggled were used by militias to commit atrocities against civilians during the Liberian civil war.

In pursuant of the case, the Kingdom of Netherlands in 2004 worked with some civil society organizations including Green Advocates which helped the Netherlands obtain statements from individuals who, in some way, worked for the Dutch businessman or were in the know of his operations in Liberia.

In 2011, in accordance with the Mutually Agreed Legal Assistance Treaty between the Governments of Liberia and the Kingdom of Netherlands, Netherlands requested the Liberian Government to assist with deposition (testimonies taken from local witnesses in a local court for a foreign country).

The depositions were to be taken from people who provided statements and affidavits to Green Advocates in 2004 in relation to the operations of OTC and its owner.

The Ministry Justice which posed no objection to the Netherlands’ request petitioned Criminal Court “A” in 2012 to allow the taking of deposition which, according to them, would be done in strict compliance of the laws of Liberia.

In that regard, the Court granted the petition and three persons testified to previous statements before the court in the presence the prosecution and defense teams from Netherlands and before a Dutch Magistrate here in Liberia.

However, the Dutch lawyers and magistrate could not directly examine or cross examine the witnesses in court as it is against the laws of Liberia for aliens to practice in Liberia. They, therefore, worked through prosecutors from the Ministry of Justice while the Dutch businessman was locally represented by Pierre, Tweh & Associates.

In 2013 the Kingdom of Netherlands requested another deposition based on the list of persons Brownell’s team had already spoken with in 2004. Such was granted by the court.

Documents in FrontPage Africa’s possession reveals in pursuant of the case the Dutch government recently requested deposition from 14 Liberians including Atty. Brownell and Cllr. Hilton Powo. Cllr. Powo in 2004 worked with Green Advocates and was part of the team taking statements from individuals who were believed to have had some contact with OTC.

Sources within the Ministry of Justice told FrontPage Africa that some of the persons who could be contacted including Cllr. Powo gave their depositions in the presence of Dutch Magistrate, prosecution and defense lawyers. Powo appeared before the court on October 27, 2016.

The court was presided over by Magistrate Nelson B. Chineh. Government lawyers presented the Kingdom of Netherlands while Kouwenhoven was represented by Pierre, Tweh & Associates. The prosecution’s questions were asked through the Government of Liberia’s lawyers in line with laws of Liberia.

However, Brownell who led the process of statement collection in 2004 did not only refuse to show up in court, but also refused to receive a Writ of Subpoena issued by the court. As a result, the court issued a Writ of Arrest for Criminal Contempt of Court against Brownell.

According to the court, Brownell’s action obstructed court’s precepts.

Reasons for Brownell’s refusal to collaborate with the court remains unknown even though he had worked with the Kingdom of Netherlands in gathering initial pieces of evidence.

Legal pundits have told the FrontPageAfrica that Brownell’s failure to show up for the deposition may be either due to he being tampered with by Gus Van Kouwenhoven or he might have provided false information to the Government of The Kingdom of Netherlands.

“What is he running away from when he was the very one who helped the Kingdom of Netherlands obtain all these affidavits for which they’re now seeking deposition?” a lawyer who preferred not being named asked rhetorically.

The special court sitting was decommissioned last Friday, November 4, and the Writ of Arrest issued on Brownell was quashed.

Brownell Crying Wolf

A team of plain clothes policemen stormed Brownell’s office on McDonald Street in an attempt to arrest him.

They threatened to arrest other staff members when he was not found in the office. Green Advocates International offices have been closed, while members of its staff have also gone into hiding, a former aide to Brownell, Alloycious David said.

David said three weeks ago, a government lawyer contacted Cllr. Brownell by phone, asking him to join a team of government lawyers in supporting a case against Gus Van Kouwenhoven, the former head of the Oriental Timber Company working in Liberia during the regime of former President Charles Taylor.

David quoted Brownell as saying that he refused the request on ground that the that they had been “terrorizing my community’s clients all over Liberia, including threats, harassments and intimidations against me personally relating to my work in the last five years.

“As far as I am concerned, that conversation was closed. Besides, I had serious security concerns because I also knew that this government lawyer (Samuel Jacobs) was a former intelligence officer in former Charles Taylor Police serving under the Criminal Investigation Division (CID),” David quoted Cllr. Brownell as saying.

Brownell, through his staff, claimed that he had received intelligence that there were plans to arrest him and his families due to his refusal to collaborate with the Government of Liberia.

But authorities at the Ministry of Justice told FrontPageAfrica that the Government of Liberia had no case against Brownell and that the Writ of Arrest had already expired.

They wondered by Brownell failed to show up to corroborate pieces of evidence and affidavits he submitted to the Kingdom of Netherlands.

Who is Gus Van Kouwenhoven?

Guus Kouwenhoven is a Dutch businessman who worked in Liberia during the presidency of Charles Taylor.

The United Nations issued an order in 2001 banning him from traveling because of arms trafficking. Kouwenhoven was arrested in the Netherlands on March 18, 2005 and stood trial at the Court of First Instance in The Hague, starting April 24, 2006.

The court tried to summon Charles Taylor to testify against Kouwenhoven. Kouwenhoven was charged with arms smuggling and war crimes in Liberia in the 90s, for which the Dutch public prosecutors sought a 20-year jail sentence and a fine of €450,000 against Kouwenhoven.

On June 7, 2006 Kouwenhoven was sentenced to 8 years in jail for arms smuggling. The court did not find him to be guilty of war crimes.

Both the public prosecutors and Kouwenhoven have sought a higher court appeal. Kouwenhoven was released in March 2007 in anticipation of his new trial.

The Court of Appeal in The Hague acquitted him March 10, 2008 of all charges and sharply criticized the work of the prosecution.

The prosecution appealed the acquittal to the Dutch Supreme Court at March 20, 2008. In April 2010 the Supreme Court ordered a re-trial at the court in Den Bosch.

In November 2014, the court in Den Bosch was to hear arguments for dismissal as there were no witnesses available to testify.

Report by Lennart Dodoo|777 788 805/886 334065|[email protected]

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