The Netherlands Justice Minister Ferd Grapperhaus has travelled to Thailand for talks on the repatriation of a coffee shop owner.
The Supreme Court has already upheld a lower court ruling imposing a 20-year jail term on the Dutch man who, together with his Thai ex-wife, laundered 300 million baht made from overseas marijuana sales through Thailand.
Van Laarhoven, who ran several cannabis cafes, or coffee shops, in Tilburg and Den Bosch moved to Thailand since 2008. Such cannabis cafes are not illegal in the Netherlands.
Van Laarhoven claimed that he obtained the 300 million baht, which was transferred to the pair’s bank accounts in Thailand, from the sale of four coffee houses in the Netherlands. However, the Supreme Court ruled that there was no evidence to support his claim because 300 million baht was too large an amount to be generated by a coffee business.
Johannes Petrus Maria van Laarhoven, 59, was found guilty of 15 counts of wrongdoing and originally received a 75-year prison sentence. His wife, Mingkwan Kaen-in, 37, was found guilty of colluding in the money laundering and given an 11-year sentence.
In consideration of their testimonies, the court commuted Laarhoven’s sentence to 50 years and Mingkwan’s to seven years and four months.
Van Laarhoven’s jail term was then further reduced to 20 years, which is the maximum period of imprisonment for money laundering.
The Justice Minister said he will meet the Thai Prime Minister and the Justice Minister on Friday to discuss the case of the Dutchman. He gave no more details because of the ‘diplomatic nature’ of the visit.
Earlier this year, MPs called on the government to do its best to bring Johan van Laarhoven and his wife back to the Netherlands after criticism by the national ombudsman over the governments bungling over his arrest.
Thai justice officials reportedly started investigating Van Laarhoven following a letter from a Dutch public prosecution department official. Informing Thai authorities he had earned his money selling marijuana and requesting help in a criminal investigation.
Although the alleged activities had taken place in the Netherlands. The Dutchman was arrested in 2014 and then sentenced to 103 years in jail, later reduced to 75 on appeal. His Thai wife was also jailed.
In March, the national ombudsman said Dutch officials were careless in their approach to the Thai authorities. Particularly in the case of Van Laarhoven’s wife who was not under investigation in the Netherlands.