Syrian and Chilean Condemned To Over 20 Years In Prison For Selling Arms To FARC
By Dialogo February 26, 2009Syrian trafficker Monzer Al Kassar, and Chilean Luis Felipe Moreno Godoy were sentenced to more than 20 years' in prison by a U.S. court by agreeing to the illegal sale of weapons to FARC guerrillas, according to the federal Attorney in Manhattan. Al Kassar was sentenced to 30 years in prison, and his Chilean partner received 25 years imprisonment, reported the source. Al Kassar, known as the "Prince of Marbella", was convicted last November 20 for arms trafficking with his Chilean partner. The Syrian businessman, who has outstanding warrants by the Justice Department in Argentina, was arrested in Madrid in 2007 after falling into a trap in which several people posed as members of the guerrilla group and were interested in buying 12,000 weapons to attack U.S. agents in Colombia. Al Kassar was prepared to sell the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) shipments worth millions of dollars in land-air missiles, grenade launchers, tons of explosives, thousands of machine guns and heavy ammunition, according to a statement by the Prosecutor's Office. "Al Kassar also promised to provide a thousand men to fight with the FARC against U.S. military in Colombia and provide training camps in his country (Syria) to the FARC," he added. The detainee, who was extradited and sent to New York last June, said he and Moreno Godoy were legal owners of a company that sold weapons internationaly and believed that the treatment given before the arrest was also legal. The Syrian citizen who claimed he was unaware that the weapons were for the FARC because "had he of known, he would have reported them immediately," he explained in 2007 in Spain, where he even said to have consulted with a police inspector, who he claims told him that there was no problem. As part of the extradition process, the U.S. assured the Spanish government would not ask for life imprisonment for the Syrian businessman. Before his extradition, Al Kassar asked not to be handed over because he was convinced that the United States would not guarantee a fair trial "for being Arab." He maintains he did not commit "any crime" and calls it "political revenge" because of statements he made in an interview criticizing U.S. president George W. Bush. In Argentina, Al Kassar was accused of committing irregularities in the processing and acquisition of that country’s citizenship, which he obtained in just 24 hours. The Manhattan federal prosecutor, Lev Dassin, thanked the collaboration and cooperation of the Spanish police and Romanian Customs authorities rendered to the U.S. authorities in this case.