Tuesday, May 6, 2008

US charges Russian 'arms dealer'

As comic relief to primary fatigue, here is an item that is not really light fare, but does have it comic angles.

The US has charged an alleged Russian arms dealer, Viktor Bout, with four counts of terrorism, saying he tried to sell weapons to Colombia's Farc rebels.

Okay. There are people in this world that make a living in such scuzzy ways. No surprise there. I've seen this before.

The US wants to extradite Mr Bout, who has been called the world's biggest illegal arms dealer.

Now it begins to get interesting.

Mr Bout's lawyer says his client is innocent and that he runs a legitimate air transport and logistics business.

What'd I say? My client is a legitimate businessman, says the solicitor. Just as Tom Hagen said about Don Vito Corlenoe.

Mr Bout has been labelled the "Merchant of Death" for allegedly supplying weapons to some of the world's worst conflicts.

I wonder who his supplier is; that is, where does this man get so many arms to sell? Some surreptitious, fallen-off-the-truck, grabbed whilst the garage door was open doesn't fit the bill here.

Mr Bout, 41, is said to have graduated from Moscow's military institute in the early 1990s and was a major in the Soviet KGB.

Ah, here we get some details; but, what does is said mean? Sez whom? Well, the US government, but not only it. A 2005 report by the human rights group, Amnesty International, said Mr Bout was "the most prominent foreign businessman" selling arms to UN-embargoed nations from countries such as Bulgaria, Slovakia, Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan.

Now, I ask: is this a face only a mother could love? Or a father? Oy.

Viktor Bout in a Bangkok criminal court detention centre - 9/4/2008
Mr Bout denies he is an arms dealer and says he runs a legitimate business

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