US secret agent tells Bout trial of weapons list
An undercover US agent on Wednesday testified that he posed as a Colombian rebel pleading for weapons to fight American troops, and that Russian Viktor Bout personally drew up a shopping list that would make an army proud.
The single sheet of handwritten notes featured in the New York trial of the world's alleged biggest black market arms trafficker, caught by US agents in a sting operation in a Bangkok hotel in 2008.
The agent, a former drug trafficker turned highly paid US informant who is identified in court papers as Carlos, told the jury how he secretly recorded the meeting in a conference room on the 27th floor of the Sofitel hotel.
During the meeting, Bout was told by Carlos and another agent posing as a FARC commander that their guerrilla army especially needed anti-aircraft missiles to shoot down US helicopters helping the Colombian government.
Recordings of those conversations were played in court, as well as a portion in which Bout expressed hatred for the United States and support for the leftist FARC fighters.
"We're together," he said in the recording. "Yes, yes, yes and we have the same enemy."
"He was referring to the Americans," Carlos told the jury.
Bout has pleaded not guilty and his lawyers say he only met with the pretend FARC representatives to sell two cargo planes. Any talk of weapons, his attorneys say, was to curry favor with the clients.
It was at the culmination of that hotel meeting that Thai police, working with US authorities, arrested Bout, winding up a complex operation across half a dozen countries to lure the Russian into a trap.
© 2011 AFP