Interviews in HK over Liberia arms smuggling Dutch investigators were in Hong Kong last week interviewing witnesses ahead of a trial against a suspected international war criminal. According to the Prosecutor's Office in Rotterdam, the two officers were in the city to track down the captain of a ship allegedly used to smuggle weapons from the mainland to Africa. Their trip follows a Hong Kong Police investigation that unearthed information on the local business connections of Gus van Kouwenhoven, an alleged accomplice of African tyrant Charles Taylor. This information, presented to Dutch authorities late last year, contributed to the decision by prosecutors to postpone Van Kouwenhoven's trial. The trial is due to resume tomorrow. Van Kouwenhoven is on trial in Rotterdam for violating a UN arms embargo on the West African state of Liberia, which Taylor ruled with an iron fist as president. Van Kouwenhoven allegedly provided weapons - including a warplane and helicopter - to the regime from 1999 until Taylor resigned in 2003. 'Two Dutch police officers came to Hong Kong on Sunday or Monday to talk to the captain of the MV Antarctic Mariner as well as one or two more witnesses. I am not sure, but some of the witnesses could be journalists,' said Desiree Leppens, a spokeswoman for the Rotterdam Prosecutor's Office. Ms Leppens explained that Dutch investigators came to Hong Kong in December looking for the captain of the Panamanian-registered ship allegedly used to smuggle weapons from the mainland to Liberia via Hong Kong. However, the captain - who Hong Kong police helped to track down - was not home at the time and the captain's wife refused to speak to the Dutch officers. It was not until the Dutch police left that the wife told local police her husband had worked on the ship owned by Hong Kong-registered company Global Star (Asia) during the time it was allegedly used to smuggle weapons. 'I cannot reveal what the evidence we collected in Hong Kong is, but it will be revealed by the prosecution on May 8,' said Ms Leppens. Local connections to Charles Taylor were exposed in 2003 by Global Witness, a human rights group. It identified companies believed to be key players in the illegal arms trade that saw Chinese-made AK-47s and rocket-propelled grenades offloaded in Africa. Timber traders allegedly took Liberian timber to the mainland to either exchange for weapons or to sell to pay for weapons. Investigations found that Oriental Timber Company (OTC) - Liberia's biggest logging firm - was linked to Hong Kong-registered firms including Global Star (Asia). The UN has accused OTC - chaired by Van Kouwenhoven - of corruption and helping to fund a bloody civil war in Sierra Leone.