After two weeks of testimony, the prosecution wrapped up its witnesses Friday in the conspiracy case against suspected arms dealer Viktor Bout. After hinting several months ago that they had surprise witnesses on tap from Russia, Bout’s lawyer, Albert Y. Dayan, said the defense team would not call any of its own witnesses, including Bout. Clad in a crisp blue pinstripe suit and with a new close-cropped prison buzz cut, Bout has watched the trial stoically from the defense table, conferring with Dayan, staring at prosecution witnesses, but saying nothing publicly.
On Friday, the final prosecution witnesses were several men who recounted Bout’s cargo planes loaded with weapons and soldiers in Africa in the late 1990s, the era when the Russian was cited by the UN as a major violator of arms embargos in Liberia, Angola and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
—AP, “As defense lawyers objected to efforts by prosecutors to elicit more testimony about the soldiers who boarded the planes, U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin stopped Assistant U.S. Attorney Brendan McGuire from getting an answer to the question: “What, if anything, were the soldiers carrying?” “Obviously they weren’t carrying pens,” defense attorney Albert Dayan said.”
—CNS, “The sting was part of the “Operation Relentless,” a federal quest to arrest Bout, a Russian national whose exploits allegedly inspired the Hollywood movie “Lord of War” and the nonfiction book “Merchant of Death.” Like Bout, Smulian sports a bushy mustache, which became surprisingly relevant to his interactions with the purported FARC militants.”