Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

THE INTERVIEW

Michel Sidibé, UNAIDS Executive Director

Read more

TALKING EUROPE

Dalia Grybauskaite, President of the Republic of Lithuania

Read more

WEB NEWS

Online scammers exploit MH17 crash

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Too many graphic images from Gaza ?

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Gaza: online reactions

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

Rise of the Robots

Read more

FOCUS

Overfishing and the global appetite for bluefin tuna: can Tokyo turn the tide?

Read more

DEBATE

Israel-Gaza, From Bad to Worse? With no Ceasefire in Sight, Conflict Spillover Felt Elsewhere (part 2)

Read more

DEBATE

Israel-Gaza, From Bad to Worse? With no Ceasefire in Sight, Conflict Spillover Felt Elsewhere

Read more

  • Hollande says French warship delivery will ‘depend on Russia’s attitude’

    Read more

  • Israeli soldier missing in Gaza, say media reports

    Read more

  • Ukraine rebels release bodies, black boxes from flight MH17

    Read more

  • A call for harmony in riot-hit ‘Little Jerusalem’ Paris suburb

    Read more

  • Widodo poised to become Indonesian president

    Read more

  • An ‘explosion of violence’: French press reacts to Gaza protests

    Read more

  • Notorious ‘VIP’ prison in Paris closed for renovations

    Read more

  • Christians in Iraq's Mosul face execution or exodus

    Read more

  • Scores killed as Libyan militias fight over airport

    Read more

  • Ukraine football players refuse to return home after friendly in France

    Read more

  • China steps up communist education to guard against ‘moral decline’

    Read more

  • French rugby stars attacked with machetes and swords

    Read more

  • Hollande announces new military operation in West Africa

    Read more

  • Kristoff wins Tour’s flat Stage 15

    Read more

Americas

Russia's 'merchant of death' convicted in New York

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2011-11-03

A New York jury on Wednesday found Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, known as "the merchant of death", guilty of conspiring to sell weapons to terrorists. Bout was extradited from Thailand in 2010 to face US charges in a move that angered Moscow.

AFP - A New York jury Wednesday found a Russian arms dealer, dubbed "the merchant of death," guilty of conspiring to sell a huge arsenal to US-designated terrorists, in a case which has angered Moscow.

Viktor Bout, 44, who was extradited from Thailand to the United States in 2010, was found guilty on all four counts including conspiring to kill US service personnel and to sell anti-aircraft weapons.

Federal Judge Shira Scheindlin set sentencing for February 8. Bout faces a minimum of 25 years and possibly up to life in prison.

"As the evidence at trial showed, Viktor Bout was ready to sell a weapons arsenal that would be the envy of some small countries," the lead federal prosecutor for Manhattan, US Attorney Preet Bharara, said afterwards.

"With today's swift verdict, justice has been done and a very dangerous man will be behind bars," Bharara said.

But Bout's lawyer, Albert Dayan, immediately promised an appeal.

"It's definitely not the end of the process. We will appeal," Dayan told reporters. "We believe this is not the end. We have a chance."

Bout, dressed in a grey suit with a white shirt, looked despondent as he listened to the jury forewoman read out the verdict reached after less than eight hours of deliberations over two days.

He briefly hugged Dayan after the verdict and was led back to a detention center. His wife Alla and their teenage daughter, present through most of the trial, were absent from the 15th floor courtroom, which was packed with journalists and law enforcement agents.

Reaction was quick from rights groups who have long monitored a man alleged to have poured weapons into some of the world's bloodiest conflicts.

"It is a good day when the world’s most notorious arms trafficker is put out of business and off the market for good," said Oistein Thorsen, a campaigner with Oxfam International.

"However, it is tragic that because we have no global treaty regulating the activities of arms dealers, many other unscrupulous dealers and brokers will continue to operate."

The trial was the culmination of a sophisticated US sting operation to corner Bout, a veteran of a shady international air freight business that specialized in African conflict zones.

US agents posing as high-ranking members of Colombia's FARC guerrilla group, an underground leftist force that Washington considers a terrorist organization, told Bout at a 2008 meeting in Bangkok that they wanted to buy weapons.

Among the weapons requested were hundreds of Russian anti-aircraft missiles that the fake FARC representatives said would be used to shoot down US pilots aiding the Colombian military.

In the secretly taped conversations in Thailand, Bout told the fake FARC that he could supply the weapons.

His lawyer had tried to argue in court that the Russian had in reality quit the arms trade and was merely playing a charade in order to further his real goal, which was to sell two unwanted cargo planes.

Bout was arrested at the 2008 meeting with the US agents, then extradited from Thailand to the United States after a bitter legal battle.

The mustachioed former Soviet military officer is alleged to have been the biggest private black market arms dealer in the post-Cold War period. He always denied this, saying he worked exclusively as a private air transporter -- although sometimes carrying legal shipments of arms -- and lived openly in Moscow.

Bout's more extended resume allegedly includes pouring weapons into wars in Afghanistan, Angola, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Liberia, Rwanda, Sierra Leone and Sudan.

The violent movie "Lord of War," starring Hollywood actor Nicholas Cage, was inspired by his life, while the chief US Drug Enforcement Agency agent who organized the Thailand sting branded him "one of the most dangerous men on the face of the Earth."

Arms expert and longtime Bout critic Kathi Lynn Austin said "the verdict in the Viktor Bout trial closes the book on one of the most prolific enablers of war, mass atrocities and terrorism in the post-Cold War era."

"We should all be grateful that the world is safer now that the man who armed the hot spots of the globe is behind bars," she said in a statement.

Moscow was outraged by Bout's arrest and extradition and there has been speculation he may know extensive state secrets.

Alexander Otchaynov, vice consul for Russia in New York, would not comment on the verdict. "Commentaries on such things will come later," he said.
 

Date created : 2011-11-03

  • JUSTICE

    ‘Merchant of Death’ arrives in US to face terror charges

    Read more

  • JUSTICE

    US extradition on course for 'Merchant of Death' after Thai charges dropped

    Read more

  • ARMAMENT

    Russia slams extradition of 'Merchant of Death' to the US

    Read more

COMMENT(S)