Bout trial opening statements

Federal prosecutors accused Viktor Bout this morning of offering to deliver “staggering quantities” of lethal weapons to undercover informants who posed as terrorists _ even if they were used to kill Americans. “He jumped at the opportunity,” said Asst. U.S. Attorney Brendan McGuire. Bout’s lawyer, Albert Y. Dayan, scoffed at the government’s sting operation as a bait and switch. He said undercover informants working for the Drug Enforcement Administration talked up the notion of buying cargo planes from Bout, then suddenly injected plans of buying weapons.  Bout “never wanted to, never intended to, and was never going to sell arms to anyone in this case,” Dayan said.

AP, “A former Soviet military officer was willing to sell ‘staggering quantities’ of weapons and explosives to anti-American rebels to make millions of dollars, a prosecutor told jurors Wednesday at the trial of a man dubbed the Merchant of Death got under way.”

 —Bloomberg, “Peter Hain, the former top U.K. Foreign Ministry official for Africa, called Bout a “merchant of death” in a 2000 speech, a phrase that became the title of a 2007 book by authors Douglas Farah and Stephen Braun. Prosecutors in May agreed to stop calling Bout the “merchant of death” after defense attorneys objected to its use.”

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