A jury in the US Federal District Court in New York heard Monday closing arguments in the trial of suspected Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, as the debates over the ‘lord of war’ is drawing to a close. The prosecution claims that Bout conspired to sell a vast arsenal of weapons to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC. The defense says that Bout was aware of a sting operation against him by the US Drug Enforcement Agency and played along to trick two informers into buying two old cargo planes, kept in Congo, for $5 million.
In his closing argument, the prosecutor told members of the jury that the evidence against Bout was “overwhelming”. Bout believed, the prosecutor said, he was talking to a FARC representative.
“They asked him about 100 Igla surface-to-air missiles, he offered them 800. They asked him of 5 thousand AK-47 assault rifle, he said he would be able to supply them with 20-30 thousand rifles, and to provide it with a night sight and riffle-attached grenade launchers,” the prosecutor said. He highlightened the recorded conversation in a Thai hotel, saying Bout’s goal was to sell ammunition, 800 missiles, landmines, unmanned aircrafts, frag grenades and 5 tons of C-4 explosives, among other military equipment”.
The record of his telephone conversations, the prosecution presented the jury with, proved that Bout was ready to secure the delivery of weapons and obtain legal paperwork “in a European country”, the prosecutor said. Bout also mentioned he could help the potential partners with laundering money from drug trafficking. “He did everything he could to convince them he would be a one-stop shop for FARC,” the prosecutor said.
In his closing argument the lawyer said that the charges leveled at Bout were supported by nothing. “Words are like wind. What has he done? Has he received a cent for the weapons? Has he made any agreements?”
“He offered them unmanned aircrafts and antiaicraft misiles. But what else could he do? The customers ask you: can you offer anything else? It would have been silly if he had said nothing”.