U.S. court starts interviewing witnesses in Bout case

U.S. court starts interviewing witnesses in Bout case
# 13 October 2011 04:59 (UTC +04:00)
Baku-APA. Witnesses began to testify during the second day of suspected Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout’s trial, APA reports quoting .

The trial against Bout started on Tuesday in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. It is expected to continue for three or four weeks.

The first government witness to testify was William Brown, an agent of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) who headed an operation to engage Bout into the conspiracy to sell weapons and his subsequent arrest in Thailand.

His questioning lasted throughout the day and will continue next Monday, when the hearings resume after a four-day break.

Prosecutors requested ten days to interview its witnesses and present evidence to the jury.

Among prosecution witnesses to testify in court are DEA agents, who acted as FARC members willing to sell a large batch of weapons and two cargo planes.

The key prosecution witness is Bout’s suspected associate Andrew Smulian, who pleaded guilty shortly after his arrest.

Bout is charged with conspiracy to kill U.S. nationals, conspiracy to kill U.S. officials, conspiracy to sell missiles and conspiracy to support terrorism by cooperating with a designated terrorist group. The Russian national denies all charges against him.

Bout’s lawyer, Albert Dayan, told a 12-person jury panel that Bout, who used to be in the air cargo business, was trying to sell two planes, not weapons, when he discussed an arms deal in Thailand with two undercover U.S. agents who posed as South American FARC revolutionaries.

The prosecution insists that Bout, 44, had allegedly agreed to sell at least 100 surface-to-air missiles, 20,000 AK-47s, and 10 million rounds of ammunition.
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THE OPERATION IS BEING PERFORMED