King Willem-Alexander during his Christmas speech 2015 (Photo: Het Koninklijk Huis) - Credit: King Willem-Alexander during his Christmas speech 2015 (Photo: Het Koninklijk Huis)
Thursday, 20 October 2016 - 09:35
Coffeeshop owner asks Dutch King's help with Thai prison sentence
Johan van Laarhoven, a Dutch coffeeshop owner currently serving a 103 year prison sentence in Thailand, wrote a letter to King Willem-Alexnder asking him to intervene in his "hopeless situation", NU.nl reports. "My fate is in your hands", Van Laarhoven (56) writes. "I am not a national export product. I am not a DJ, not a journalist or model that the whole country is proud of. But I am still your citizen. A citizen who needs your help, desperately. Please free me from this Thai hell." Van Laarhoven, founder of coffeeshop The Grass Comopany, was sentenced to 103 years in prison by a Thai court last year. The Thai authorities consider selling soft drugs illegal. Even if it did happen in the Netherlands, where the sale of soft drugs is tolerated. The Dutch man wants the Netherlands to request that he be extradited back to the Netherlands. But the Dutch state refused. A civil action is currently ongoing in which Van Laarhoven hopes to force the Dutch government's hands. But a ruling is only expected next year and, according to the Dutch man's lawyer, Van Laarhoven may not have that time. "The circumstances in which Johan is imprisoned, are atrocious", lawyer Sidney Smeets said. "He suffers from kidney and heart problems and lost more than 40 kilos. He is not getting the medical care he needs and fears for his health." The National Ombudsman in the Netherlands, Reinier van Zuthphen also recently picked up Van Laarhoven's case.