Viktor Bout cronies tried to renew arms trade: NGO
PHUKET: Two alleged accomplices of convicted Russian arms smuggler Viktor Bout – arrested in Thailand in 2008 – sought to relaunch his business from the Indian Ocean nation of Mauritius, a US non-governmental organization said Tuesday.
Wednesday 18 July 2012, 10:03AM
"Many actors involved in this network had a connection to Viktor Bout and are back in the game of shipping arms to war zones," Kathi Lynn Austin, head of the New York-based Conflict Awareness Project, told a press conference.
Austin was presenting the results of a two-month investigation into the global arms trade, as UN member states are halfway through a month-long session aimed to negotiating a conventional arms treaty.
According to Austin, two of Bout's top lieutenants "are establishing a clandestine air transport operation with tentacles stretching from Mauritius, the United States, Finland, the United Arab Emirates and South Africa into Iran, Somalia, Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of Congo."
The men were identified as Russian nationals Sergey Denishenko and Andrei Kosolapov.
"The Denishenko-Kosolapov operation engaged sub-companies and business partners" in several of those countries, and planed to operate out of the Indian Ocean island nation, Austin said.
The two Russian nationals applied for an Air Operator Certificate (AOC) to employ a local airline in trafficking weapons, but Mauritian authorities rejected the application, stalling their plans, she added.
A former Soviet army pilot and translator, Bout -- the inspiration for the arms smuggler played by Nicolas Cage in "Lord of War" (2005) -- was sentenced by a US judge to 25 years in prison in April.
The Russian -- widely dubbed the "merchant of death" -- was lured to Thailand and arrested there in 2008 at the end of a US sting operation that stretched from the Caribbean island of Curacao to central Europe.
Bout was eventually extradited to the United States and convicted in November on four counts of conspiring to sell missiles to terrorists and to kill US troops.