Viktor Bout convicted: a milestone in the fight against weapon trafficking
With the conviction of Viktor Bout in New York, a crucial milestone has been reached on Wednesday 2nd November in the fight against international weapon trafficking. Few weapon smugglers have to this day been effectively convicted.
Mr. Bout, former 44 year-old Russian military, who inspired the movie Lord of War, is considered as one of the main weapon traffickers of the post-Soviet era.
He supposedly fueled regions in conflict such as Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Soudan.
Taking advantage of the national and regional legislations’ shortcomings in the matter of weapon trade and procuring, he managed to elude all prosecution since the end of the Cold War, until the DEA (the American Drug Enforcement Administration) managed to set him a trap. Agents acted as Colombian FARC members. They negotiated with Viktor Bout the acquisition of a weapons arsenal intended for the fight against American troops in Colombia.
After the arrest of Mr. Bout in Thailand in Marsh 2008 and his extradition to the United-States in August 2010, the trial started on October 11 2011 in New York on four charges : conspiracy to kill American citizens, kill American officials, deliver anti-aircraft missiles and provide aid to a terrorist organization. These charges only relate to the FARC sting, and not on the years of presumed trafficking. Mr. Bout pleaded not guilty, and his lawyer tried to show that he in fact only intended to sell two planes of his former fleet.
On Wednesday 2nd November 2011, after less than a month trial and 8 hours of jury deliberation, Viktor Bout was convicted on all four charges. His sentence, to be determined between 25 years and life imprisonment, will be announced on the 8th February 2012.
Even though this conviction is a success in the fight against weapon trafficking, the story isn’t yet closed. Mr. Bout’s lawyer, Albert Dayan, indeed declared they would launch an appeal against this decision.