Belgian arms dealer and intelligence asset sentenced to three years plus 300,000 euro fine

nsnbc : The Belgian arms dealer Jacques Monsieur was sentenced to three years in prison plus a 300,000 euro fine for arms deals to a number of countries including Libya. Monsieur claims he acted as intelligence asset.

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The three-year prison sentence plus the 300,000 euro fine for Jacques Monsieur was a harsher punishment than the public prosecutor had demanded. Monsieur was not present in Court when the judge read out the sentence.

The 64-year-old Belgian arms merchant was standing trial in Brussels. He was charged with illegal sales of weapons to a number of countries including Chad, Guinea Bissau, Iran, Libya and Pakistan.

Among the arms deals covered by the trial and the verdict were the sales of 100,000 automatic rifles to Libya, 10 tanks and 5 helicopters to Guinea Bissau, 200,000 automatic rifles plus ammunition to Chad, rocket launchers and guns to Pakistan and a variety of military material to Iran.

Monsieur has consistently denied that he had acted illegally and claimed that the arms deals were a cover for his work as intelligence asset. However, since Monsieur, more likely than not, was an external “asset” rather than an “agent”, he and his defense team had problems convincing the court.

Monsieur mostly acted as “go-between” when arms deals were signed. This practice adds an extra layer of “plausible deniability” for arms exporters who can claim they were unaware the weapons would be provided to countries where a conflict was in progress – or that the end users were non-State actors with questionable links and reputations, including links to terrorism.

Intelligence services also tend to use these “go-betweens” or brokers to gather intelligence, to control armed assets, and to have plausible deniability. Monsieur mentioned, among others, the CIA as one of his intelligence contacts.

Branded as “outcast” by Belgian media that ridicule his intelligence connections as “bad excuse” Monsieur probably knows that it is more healthy to spend three years in jail and pay a 300,000 euro fine than to insist on his innocence, his status as intelligence asset, and to risk drowning in a three-inch-deep puddle of water.

CH/L – nsnbc 01.06.2017

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