Russian arms trafficker appears in US court
Victor Bout, a reputed Russian arms dealer who allegedly procured weapons for many conflicts in Africa, appeared before a United States court on Friday for a pre-trial hearing.
Dubbed "Merchant of Death," Bout was on the wanted list of US law enforcement authorities for many years until was he was snared in a US-led sting operation in Thailand in 2008. He was extradited to the US in November, a move the Russian government called "unlawful."
Bout, 43, appeared before US Judge Shira Scheindlin of the Southern District in New York. The judge had already given Bout's court-appointed lawyers an extension to prepare for the case, which was set to begin on January 10, dpa reported.
Defence lawyers said they were overwhelmed by the volume of documents related to the case and restrictions imposed on them due to Bout's confinement.
Bout, a former Soviet Air Forces officer, was alleged to own a fleet of airplanes and vessels to help his arms trade. He was accused of selling weapons that fueled civil wars in Afghanistan, Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Sierra Leone and Sudan.