Monday, March 10, 2008

Ugandan generals linked to "Merchant of Death"

KAMPALA - Viktor Bout, the world's most notorious illegal arms baron who was arrested in Thailand at the weekend, sold arms to Uganda and illegally used Entebbe International Airport to ship arms to DR Congo and Liberia.

Former Russian KGB officer Bout - nicknamed the "Merchant of Death" - is believed to have supplied weapons to dozens of rebel groups the world over, including the Taliban and al-Qaeda-linked groups. A report by the Belgian International Peace Information Service (IPIS) reveals how Bout, with the help of top Ugandan military officers, fueled conflict in DR Congo, Africa's vast and mineral-rich country.

"Today, clients of Mr Bout's companies include Angola, Cameroon, CAR, DRC, Equatorial Guinea, Kenya, Liberia, Libya, Congo-Brazzaville, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Sudan, Swaziland and Uganda," a report authored in October 2002 at the height of the Congo civil war by Belgian researcher Tim Raemaekers said. The report said the Russian arms dealer fronted a company called Culworth Investments, headed by an Egyptian Sharif Al-Mazri, who was a sales agent for an MI-24 helicopter to the Uganda Defence Ministry. "In November 2000, Culworth Investments was selling arms to Uganda, this time machine guns from Slovakia," the report said. But the consignment delivered in Uganda "contrasted the specifications and Uganda Defence Ministry asked Culworth Investments to ship it back to its country of origin." That is when trails of Bout were traced in Uganda. His plane, with a Moldovan registration number ER-75929, was the one used to ferry the rejected arms consignment to Uganda.

When Uganda rejected the arms, Bout attempted to sell the same arms to a Liberian rebel group. "On hindsight, it became clear that the representatives of Central African Air actually represented one and the same company run by the network around Viktor Bout," the report said. Other sources intimated that Bout frequented Kampala during the Congolese civil war and was close to top military officers in the UPDF. The IPIS report said Bout's close associate was Sanjivan Ruprah, a 40-year-old Kenyan of Indian origin who was arrested in Belgium in 2002 on charges of belonging to a criminal network. "Victor Bout and Sanjaivan Ruprah hold a large stake in diamond business in Kisangani (Congo), including diamond concessions in Banalia. Was the aircraft indeed carrying arms? Did it return to Entebbe with Congolese diamonds? Answers to these questions must be found with the arrangers of the arms' flights as well as the aviation authorities in Uganda and DRC," the report said.

But Ugandan Defence Minister Crispus Kiyonga said Uganda does not purchase its military hardware from individuals. "I have no comment about Viktor Bout and Uganda does not deal with or purchase military hardware from individuals. It is a state to state arrangement," Dr. Kiyonga said yesterday. But Uganda has a record of using middlemen; a case in point being the much publicised purchase of junk helicopters. A local company owned by a Ugandan businessman was used as a go-between.
Several UN expert panel reports and a local commission of inquiry, headed by Justice David Porter, accused Uganda's top military brass of looting Congolese minerals and arming different Congolese warring factions. Top military officers, including Maj. Gen. James Kazini, Maj. Gen. Kahinda Otafiire and Brig. Noble Mayombo (RIP), among others, were accused by the Porter commission of taking part in the plunder. The officers, however, vehemently denied the accusations and some were cleared of any wrong doing.

Bout's network of planes, the IPIS report said, reportedly helped transport minerals out of DR Congo. "When coltan prices skyrocketed at the end of 2000, Mr Bout's planes transported coltan from DRC to Uganda," the report said. "In the DRC, Mr Bout's planes have been transporting arms, diamonds, coltan to Congolese rebel movements such as MLC and RCD." At the time, MLC (Mouvement de Liberation du Congo) was a rebel group led by former Uganda-backed Congolese rebel leader Jean Pierre Bemba. RCD (Rasemblement Congolais pour la Democratie) was also led by Uganda-backed Wamba Dia Wamba. Interpol and MI6 have worked hard to disrupt Bout's arms' deals in conflict zones.

Bout, who speaks six languages and is widely believed to have been the model for the arms dealer played by Nicolas Cage in the 2005 film Lord of War, was finally arrested in Bangkok on an international drugs warrant. Police Colonel Petcharat Sengchai said he was wanted on charges of "procuring weapons and explosives for Colombian rebels." Former British Foreign Office Minister Peter Hain - who named Mr Bout as the “Merchant of Death” in the House of Commons - said yesterday: "He was at the centre of the blood diamonds trade from Sierra Leone to Angola and across Africa. That was why I named him in the Commons, the first British minister to do such a thing."

For years, Bout made himself untouchable by using 60 aircraft from his British Gulf airline to fly supplies into Baghdad. At one time, he supplied both the Taliban and the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan. Bout has told police he was in Bangkok, where he was arrested, for a holiday and not to transact any weapons business, a police officer said on Saturday.

A former Soviet air force officer, Bout was charged in New York with conspiring to sell weapons worth millions of dollars to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC. The United States, which has given billions of dollars in military aid to Colombia to fight the Marxist rebels and drug cartels, plans to seek Bout's extradition, but Thai police have said that would have to wait until after he is tried in Thailand. Thai laws require detained foreign terror suspects to be tried locally. The court on Saturday granted police permission to detain Bout, who was finger-printed in front of the media, for further questioning. He was remanded in custody at the infamous "Bangkok Hilton", or Klong Prem prison. Police, who can detain him for three months, expect to finish their investigation in two months before submitting it to prosecutors.

Bout was expected to apply for bail on Sunday, his Thai lawyer Lak Nitiwatvichan said.


valentin vasilescu said...

About a int`l smuggling weapons connection for Iran about you never heart till now. And the sclavagist procedures used by Justice of Romania regarding human rights, for hiding the true, the illegal connection between Romanian high rank political and military leaders with worldwide arms smuggling dealers especially Viktor Bout,.take a look on the left column of page wich contains a real story with a lot of original documents.
I am glad to know my letter interest you. I am living in Bucharest Romania and I am not able to travel abroad. I have no job since 2004 year, when the Romanian Governement decided for me an interdiction for employment and I have no money. I am looking to help in a abuse case in Justice. In Romania we haven`t any Amnisty national section, in connection with worldwide groups. Nobody cares about abuses in Romania, this is the reason they can go on for longtime. I graduated Romanian AF Academy ( 1984 ), like pilot on fighter jet MIG-21. I graduated War College too in 1992, MD in Aeronautical Science. For me all start up in may 6-th 1998 when I was arrested at my job, in my office of asistant commander of Bucharest-Otopeni Int`l Airport, like an dangerous criminal. I successful passed the exam for a job in Bucharest Otopeni Int`l Airport in September 1996, like traffic controller on the ground ( marshaler). Step by step I received by exam the international licence of Ro.C.A.Authority the qualification of traffic controller-begginer, traffic controller and traffic controller-instructor. In October 1997 I was promoted by concurs in the job of assistant commander. This denomination means a coordinator for safety air traffic before the take of and after landing, taxiing and parking of aircraft. This job means no decision regarding airport, the board of directors including : airport`s director general, deputy director, technical director, development director, financial director and operational director ( who subordinate all 4 asistant commanders, each working in separate shift- 12/24 hours). I do this job since November 1997 till May 6-th 1998. When they put and keep me in jail for 100 days without any proves against me. Acording Romanian legislation an absence of duty more than 60 days it means you are loosing the job forever. Authorities make up an fake cigarette`s smuggling, the case had an huge echo Romanian media call it : scandal "TIGARETA 2". In fact, no cigarettes on board of airplane IL-76 landed at Bucharest Otopeni. Overnight standing at military apron was necesary for Romanian secret services to load the romanian anti aircraft missilles for underembargo destination ( Teheran-OIII code IATA ). It was not the first time. When the Court permit me to prove ( more than 1 year of beginning the trial ), I put the doccuments on the table. As I say, nobody cares about the thrue clear put in light by my doccuments. Justice can`t denie it, there was original doccuments, wich was “get lost” by the authorities to save one`s hide when they start up the investigations.
Mr. Tocu Vasile received the appointment to build up the preliminary report in “Tigareta 2” ( delivered at May 4-th 1998 ) like the highest rank investigative specialist in charge.As I mention, I was arrested at May 6-th 1998. The same person ( Tocu Vasile ), the chief Inspector of Civil Aviation together with Mr. Frincu Aleodor Marian ( the Transport`s secretary of state for Civil Aviation send to Bucharest-Otopeni Airport director the order, disposal of July 19-th 1998 ( when I was in jail ) to erase of airport`s evidence 11 documents wich certified 11 special flights of 1996 year, operated by the same procedure like the incriminated flight of April 16-th 1998 of Tigareta 2 case. I enclosed one of them. The airport deputy commander shift at September 29th 1996 was Tocu Vasile ( promoted in 1997 like chief Inspector of Aviation ). Route : Podgorita ( Muntenegro )-Bucharest Otopeni landing. After than airplane ( IL-76 type ) take off full for destination : Teheran. Remarks : Parked for loading at Otopeni Air Force Base`s apron ( parcat la U.M. 01962 ). No passengers. Procedure is valuable only in case of dangerous goods cargo (arms ). Air company = MIRAVIA.
The commercial deal between Romania and Iran involved delivery the equipments of 2 regiments of A.A. missiles, estimative cost ~ 8-9 million USD. Each regiment composed by 3 launching battery ( L.B.) and 1 technical battery (T.B.). Each L.B. composed by 4 mobile launching ramps ( L.R.)on trucks and 1 mobile radar tracking system ( M.R.T.S.) cm, dm frecvency antennas included.
At least 80-90 missiles, 24 L.R.; 6 M.R.T.S.; 2 complexe T.B. with few mobile components ( missile`s fuell is high toxic and corrosive, a reason to transport and storage separate; ansambly it only before the launching ). For deploy by air the 2 regiments of missile was planned at least 20 flights of wide body aircraft ( IL-76 or B-707 type ) of Viktor Bout`s companies and 6 flights using medium cargo aircraft ( AN-12 ). In 1996 was only 11 flights. In my page ( ) can see in adition the flight of February 21-st 1998 of Uzbekistan Airways ( UZB-3509/3510 ) operated by AN-12 registred UK-11639. The agreement of landing and overflight for this flight was eliberated by Ro Department of Defence-MApN ( Acord de survol nr. 00096/02.98 ). This document mention : the purpose of flight is to transport components of missiles wich property of Army Arsenal ( transporta componente de racheta din Arsenalul Armatei ). For high priority of this flight Romanian Air Force according the military schedule for Air Traffic Controller`s papers ( 8683 specify for special flights-cargo ). The destination of flight is wrong. Nobody find out this type of Romanian AA missiles in Uzbekistan Army or Azerbaidjan Army.The second flight was at March 1-st 1998. Boeing 707 ex-Santa Lucia`s Oliver North Airways company first registered as J6-SLF, now re-registered in Liberia EL-JNS operated by Sky Air together with Air Atlantic Cargo property of US-Iranian Farhad Azima, aviation magnate and gun-runner, business partnership in Heavy Lift company with arms dealer Victor Bout. He is member of the Board of Directors of the U.S. Azerbajan Chamber of Commerce also ( ). This guy had since May 1987 till 2003 an office at Ostend Airport-Belgium, where its aircraft was also periodically stored for maintenance purposes. He donated 1 million USD for presidential campaign of Bill Clinton ( 2000 year ) The same like the flight of September 29th 1996, the Air company of March 1-st 1998 was MIRAVIA ( flight MRV-601/2 ). And the military schedule for Air Traffic Controller`s papers was 8663, code OACI of airport of arrival = OIII Teheran-Mehrabad, Iran ( ).
The third was the incriminated IL-76`s flight of Tigareta 2 ( April 16-th, 1998 ) SFB-1652/3. Mention again the military schedule for Air Traffic Controller`s papers : 8964, 8929. The rules for air traffic flow management integration for Civil/military co-ordination are described in Manual Concerning Safety Measures Relating to Military Activities Potentially Hazardous to Civil Aircraft Operations (Doc 9554). And Annex 7 — Aircraft Nationality and Registration Marks/ Chicago Conventiion.
As you see on my page the criteria is simple : 1001-1999= Romanian companies for commercial passenger or cargo flight ( for ex. TAROM-ROT ). 2001-3999= foreign companies for commercial passenger or cargo flight ( for ex. Greek Olympic Airways OAL ). 4001-4999 = Romanian Air Force flights on Civilian air routes ( for ex. ROAF ). 7001-7999 = special transport-passenger, VIP priority flights ( head of State ). 8001-8999 = special transport-cargo, arms on board of foreign civilian registred aircraft. Flight Plan ( F.P.) is a document completed only by commander of aircraft. When he loaded a cargo on the departure airport mention it in F.P. field : type of flight. Code OACI for cargo at board , commercial purpose of flight is N. ( see the document on my page ). The Romanian authorities and the Justice established the IL-76 take of empty for a ferry flight on April 17-th, 1998. But for an empty aircraft the commander no pay taxes on route if only marked at Bucharest, on F.P. code G ( from general aviation ). Acording Convention on International Civil Aviation of Chicago Annex 6 — Operation of Aircraft ( Part I — International Commercial Air Transport — Aeroplanes; Part II — International General Aviation — Aeroplanes ).
In addition, you shold clarified the guest stars of this special operation reading :

Only a few Romanian intelligence agencies covered import-export firms was involved in cigarettes smuggling on Bucharest airport and in frre zone of Agigea, Constanta port ( new and old ), for make money for support military training of Islamic organizations . This person start up his career like naval intelligence officer of a Middle East country. His partener in those firms was a Romanian Army general, appointed like the head of Guardia Financiare. In fact, the management of this network of undercovered firms belong to colonel GEORGE DUMITRESCU (ID serial DM no. 365850 ) active duty high rank officer of Brigada Antiterorista / SRI ( Homeland Romanian Inteligence Service ), who coordinate the arab citizen and his brothers activities . He was the person who signed all the documents of firm and I enclosed it in my attachement. His cousin, ex-personnel head of staff of Intelligence Academy in `90s years, was appointed colonel prosecutor of Military Panell. In all operations with cigarettes this network was supported by a general, the head of Economic Counter Intelligence division of SRI. This job was profitable for general, he multiply with thousands his official salary. Personel of SIE ( Foreign Intelligence Agency of Romania ) based in a Romanian Ambassy was responsible for fake documents necessary for commercial operations of the net. Accomlishing a superior order certainly.
Best regards,

Valentin Vasilescu

valentin vasilescu said...

Question : Why was neccesary to send Viktor Bout one of his lieutenants to travel at Bucharest ?
His business link with Romanian Governement in periode 1996-1999 was colonel Gigel BRATILOVEANU/ ROMTEHNICA. When his business was to illegal transfer of Romanian Governement weapons loaded on Bucharest-Otopeni military apron for almost hundred flights with destination DR Congo, Angola, Iran, Liberia, Sudan, Rwanda, Uganda etc. Now Mr. Bratiloveanu is in charge like comercial representative of Romanian Ambassy at Moskaw. He gave to V. Bout the memory stick with the price of Romanian surface-to-air missile systems for FARC guerrilas.

If you don`t know about the longtime connection between Viktor Bout and Romanian Governement, I invite you to take a look on the documents of page :

Bout airplane registred in Moldova ER-75929 operated 73 flights of Romanian build smuglling weapons for Africa at military apron of Otopeni-Bucharest airport under Air Acvila ( RRM code ), a Romanian Department of Defense company.