An accused Syrian arms dealer on trial for agreeing to sell weapons to Colombian rebels was driven by greed and was not working with Spanish intelligence as the defense claims, prosecutors said on Tuesday, Reuters reports.
Monzer al-Kassar, 62, a longtime Spanish resident known as the "prince of Marbella" for his lifestyle in the glitzy seaside town, is accused of conspiring to sell millions of dollars of weapons to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC.
U.S. prosecutors have called him one of the world's most prolific arms dealers and in closing arguments rejected the defense assertion that Kassar was a legitimate arms merchant who, when dealing with two U.S. informants on the FARC deal in 2007, was instead spying on them for Spanish intelligence.
The defense had made that assertion during the two-week trial at a federal court in Manhattan.
Kassar's motivation was purely financial, prosecutor Boyd Johnson told jurors.
"The defendants weren't working for Spanish intelligence on this deal, they were working for themselves," Johnson said.
The U.S. government hired undercover operatives to pose as FARC arms buyers and to videotape negotiations in Spain with Kassar and another defendant, Luis Felipe Moreno Godoy, 59.
"Monzer al-Kassar and Moreno were obsessed with the money," Johnson said.
Throughout the trial prosecutors played videotapes and showed e-mails and handwritten notes found in Kassar's Marbella home as evidence of the deal. They also showed documents found in Kassar's briefcase when he was arrested at the Madrid airport in June 2007.
Kassar is charged with conspiring to kill U.S. nationals and officers, conspiring to acquire anti-aircraft missiles and providing support to a terrorist organization.
"Al-Kassar knew the missiles would be used to hit U.S. helicopters in Colombia," Johnson said. "The defendants thought the weapons were going to be used to kill Americans."
The U.S. Embassy in Madrid said Kassar has been selling weapons since the 1970s to the Palestinian Liberation Front and clients in Nicaragua, Bosnia, Croatia, Iran, Iraq and Somalia.