News / USA

    US Trial of Alleged Arms Dealer Opens in New York

    Carolyn Weaver

    The trial of a former Soviet Air Force officer and alleged international arms dealer dubbed a "merchant of death" by security experts is underway in New York.

    Police in Thailand arrested Russian businessman Viktor Bout in 2008.  His trial in New York opened with prosecutors and defense lawyers painting sharply different pictures of the former Soviet military officer.  

    Bout is accused of conspiring to sell thousands of military-grade weapons. including surface-to-air-missiles, explosives,  and grenades.

    Federal prosecutor Brendan McGuire told the court that Bout had quote, "jumped at the opportunity" to make millions selling arms to FARC, a Colombian rebel organization that he believed would use them, in part, to shoot down U.S. helicopters.   He alleged that Bout had said Americans were his enemies too.

    Federal agent William S. Brown testified Bout's arrest in Thailand came after he met with undercover agents posing as members of FARC, which the U.S. has designated as a terrorist organization.

    Bout maintains his innocence and says he was entrapped.  He was extradited to the U.S. after a lengthy court battle.

    Bout's attorney, Albert Dayan, told the court his client was lured to the meeting on the hopes of selling two cargo airplanes he owned.   Dayan said Bout was never an arms dealer, only a transporter, and that he only promised to include weapons to promote the airplane sale.

    Douglas Farah is co-author of Merchant of Death, a book that helped bring Bout to wide attention. He says Bout was the most successful illegal weapons trafficker ever, often arming both sides of African conflicts in the 1990s.

    "…Fueling the wars around Africa, then eventually Afghanistan and then into Latin America and elsewhere," said Farah.  "I think what's historic about his arrest is that it was one of the first times, and particularly the Drug Enforcement Administration went after someone who was tangentially linked to narcotics, but fundamentally accused of violating weapons embargoes and gross human rights abuses that flowed from those weapons sales."

    A U.N. Security Council resolution from 2004 asked member states to refuse Viktor Bout transit and to freeze his assets.  Kathi Austin is with the Conflict Awareness Network, a group that has tracked Bout for a long time.

    "What's alarming to me is that Viktor Bout has actually trafficked weapons before into conflict areas, he's broken U.S. domestic law, he has actually trafficked and broken other laws and has violated U.N. sanctions, and Viktor Bout is not being held accountable for those particular real crimes, where there were real victims," said Austin.

    Bout's wife, Alla, spoke to reporters after the trial opened. Asked if her husband was capable of the crimes he is accused of, she called him a very talented "maverick" businessman.

    "So, he can compromise on some issues. I cannot judge what really happened in this case, but as I know him very well, from the point of view of morals, the charges are absurd," said  Alla Bout.

    Bout faces life in prison if convicted on the four charges, which include conspiracy to kill Americans and to provide material support to a terrorist organization.

    You May Like

    Leaving Scalia Replacement to 2017 Would Mean Unusually Long Vacancy

    History of high court shows Obama not in unique situation during final year of presidency

    US Fact Checkers Debunk Some Republican Presidential Candidate Claims 

    Slim evidence for several claims made by Republican presidential candidates at their last debate ahead of next Saturday's key nominating election in South Carolina

    Uganda Presidential Debate a Small Victory for Democracy

    In homes and bars across country, Ugandans were fixated on their screens as eight political candidates running for president took part in national debate

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    New Technology Aims to Bring Election Transparency to Ugandai
    X
    Serginho Roosblad
    February 12, 2016 9:29 PM
    A team of recent graduates from Uganda’s Makerere University has created a mobile application designed to help monitor elections and expose possible rigging. The developers say the app, called E-Poll, will make Uganda's democratic process fairer. From Kampala, VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
    Video

    Video New Technology Aims to Bring Election Transparency to Uganda

    A team of recent graduates from Uganda’s Makerere University has created a mobile application designed to help monitor elections and expose possible rigging. The developers say the app, called E-Poll, will make Uganda's democratic process fairer. From Kampala, VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
    Video

    Video Refugees in Kenya Vie to Compete in Rio Olympics

    In Kenya, refugees from other African nations are training at a special camp and competing for a limited number of slots in this year's Rio Olympics under the flag of the International Olympic Committee (IOC). As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Ngong, this is a first in Olympic history.
    Video

    Video Gateway to Mecca: Historical Old Jeddah

    Local leader Sami Nawar's family has been in the Old City of Jeddah for hundreds of years and takes us on a tour of this ancient route to Mecca, also believed to be the final resting place of Adam's wife, Eve.
    Video

    Video Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortage

    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video Russia Bristles at NATO Expansion in E. Europe

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is meeting Friday with the head of NATO after the Western military alliance and the United States announced plans for the biggest military build-up in Europe since the Cold War. Russia has called NATO's moves a threat to stability in Europe. But NATO says the troop rotations and equipment are aimed at reassuring allies concerned about Russia as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.