‘Arms dealer’ Bout’s lawyer explains client’s sales intentions

A lawyer for suspected Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout has sent a note to a federal court in New York, saying the former Air Force officer went to Bangkok three years ago to negotiate the purchase of aircraft.

Bout is on trial in the United States on charges of conspiracy to sell arms to Colombian militants.

Prosecutors maintain that the Russian, dubbed the Merchant of Death by a British politician, was negotiating the sale of heavy weaponry to FARC, a Colombian militant group, when he was arrested in Bangkok in March 2008 during a U.S.-led sting operation.

Lawyer Albert Dayan said Bout “had no intention of entering the scheme.”

“[The U.S.] state agents, probably along with the other defendants, fraudulently enticed Bout into the possible plane bargain while really intending to cajole him into the arms deal,” Dayan said in the note.

The U.S. says Bout agreed to sell arms to U.S. informants masquerading as FARC agents, a claim he denies.

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