Like Roberts, Mokoto had journeyed, apparently without trepidation, to New York from Africa in order to describe Bout’s monopoly of air cargo operations during the two Congo wars. As recounted by the two men, Bout had set up his transport hub out of airfields inGoma,Congo (thenZaire) and an unnamed East African country.Canada Goose expedition parka dam That East African nation is Rwanda, but Judge Shira Scheindlin had barred the country’s name from being spoken during trial so as not to prejudice the jury against Bout given its common association with one of the twentieth century’s most horrific genocides.Since I had investigated firsthand Bout’s gunrunning operations in and out of Central African combat zones, it wasn’t the information that had me visibly shaken. I knew these details by heart. Rather, it was the lack of remorse and fear of reprisal both witnesses displayed as they described how they had once enabled warfare and gross human rights abuses.
The other moment that left me icy was when Bout’s co-conspirator Andrew Smulian related his previous joint ventures with Bout supplying rebel forces in Angola by air. Smulian did not flinch even though these logistical operations were in violation of UN sanctions at the time.Canada Goose expedition parka dam Genocide and conflict in Rwanda,Congo and Angola cost millions of lives and will continue to traumatize survivors for years to come. Yet, during the trial such flesh and blood reality has been glossed over as merely collateral. I wonder how many others in the courtroom feel the weight of this tragedy.Other than one Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agent and two of the DEA’s confidential sources, the aviation experts mentioned above are the only other witnesses that theU.S.prosecution has called in this high-profile trial.
This isn’t surprising. Even Bout’s defense lawyer, Canada Goose expedition parka dam Albert Dayan, hasn’t shied from acknowledging that Bout commanded one of the large arms transport fleet in the post-Cold War era until he was sanctioned by the United Nations in March 2004.Pilots and aviation companies are the lifeline for illegal arms pipelines and often are wars’ repeat offenders—continuing to aid and abet genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes with impunity. These enablers come in all stripes and from all nationalities but often shares common characteristics: a pilot license and/or plane, a daredevil spirit, and callousness towards humanity in order to make a buck.