– A man extradited from Australia to the US will represent himself on charges he conspired with a notorious Russian arms dealer to buy planes to move weapons.
At a pre-trial conference in New York on Thursday, Syrian-born Richard Chichakli told US District Judge William Pauley he would represent himself at his November trial.
The 53-year-old is accused of conspiring with arms dealers including former Soviet air officer Viktor Bout, dubbed the Merchant of Death.
Mr Chichakli, a US citizen, had been living in Melbourne under an alias.
He worked as a cleaner for almost three years before authorities arrested him in January.
When he attempted to apply for a job as a Protective Services Officer, a fingerprint check connected him to an Interpol red alert.
On Thursday, the judge warned Mr Chichakli it was unwise for him to represent himself. But Mr Chichakli said he preferred it, even after agreeing to the judge’s request that he consult lawyers about it.
He told the judge he had two doctorates, four master’s degrees and nine bachelor’s degrees.
“I’m a highly educated person,” he said.
“I am the best fit to address this court about questions accusing me.”
He said his lawyer seemed too nice. “I am here for my life,” he said.
Mr Chichakli repeated his claim that he had served in the US Army.
In a 2010 interview in Moscow, Mr Chichakli said the US criminal case against Bout was based on “lies” and questioned whether justice was possible in the US.
“The US made in this case for one simple reason,” he said at the time. “To get to Viktor Bout.”
Mr Chichakli said then that he had “never done business with Viktor Bout”.
An indictment accuses Mr Chichakli and Bout of violating sanctions by arranging to buy two Boeing aircraft from US companies in 2007. It says they electronically transferred more than $1.7 million through banks in New York.
The money was blocked by the US Treasury Department before it reached the aviation companies’ accounts.
Prosecutors say that Mr Chichakli worked closely with Bout since at least the mid-1990s to assemble a fleet of cargo planes to ship weapons and military equipment to various parts of the world, including Africa, South America and the Middle East.
Prosecutors say the arms have helped fuel conflicts and support regimes in Afghanistan, Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia, Rwanda, Sierra Leone and Sudan.
Bout is serving 25 years in prison after he was convicted of conspiracy charges relating to the support of a Colombian terrorist organisation.
He maintains that he was simply a legitimate businessman.
Bout was dubbed the Merchant of Death because of his 1990s-era notoriety for running a fleet of ageing Soviet-era cargo planes to conflict-ridden hotspots on the African continent.
He inspired the arms dealer character played by Nicolas Cage in the 2005 film Lord of War – AP/AAP


About Jumpin' Jack Cash

Deep connections are the most important aspect of my existence. I don’t care if people don’t know what they want. I love books. I’m cynical of love stories, although I’m romantic. I adore gardens. I like women who challenge me. I love the rain as an excuse to stay inside and dream. I'm furiously impatient. If I ask you a question best to tell me the truth as I'm likely to already know the answer. I'm a carnivore. I continuously underestimate the magic of fresh flowers in my home. I love warm rain in the summer. My mood elevates to epic proportions when the sun shines. Tell me not to do something and I'll do it twice and take photos. Running is my antidepressant. I loathe lies. I rarely forgive a lie. Loyalty and honesty are my most noble virtues, and I value them more than anything in other people. I love to love, and am able to fall in love very quickly, although it's only ever happened once. I understood myself and fixed myself only after destroying myself. My greatest excitement comes from deliberately getting lost in foreign cities. I can be extremely loud and frighteningly silent. I hate insinuations. I love storms. Justice for all. I'm a proud man, but welcome the influence of the feminine soul. I have two sisters. I’m a dreamer. I’m a deep thinker. Don’t deal with guilt trips or drama that well. I'm extremely stubborn and persistent. I'm brilliant at keeping secrets. I love driving. I become absolutely and completely lost while watching a burning fire. When the toast pops from the toaster I’m never ready and shit myself. I play the guitar, but require much improvement. Solitude and warmth of the sun are perfect together. I’ve been married once and now divorced. I’m a music junkie. Chocolate mousse is the shit. I curse too much. I find it difficult to make friends. I spent four years as a firefighter. I’ve run my own company since 1991. Bright lights, big cities. I’ve been an executive producer of a feature film. Some people don’t care, and that’s the biggest let-down of the human race. There are cures and solutions for many evils, but no remedy for the worst of them all - the apathy of human beings. The sound of the Italian language being spoken is as good as my favourite music. I hate corrupt cops. I relentlessly and passionately pursue anybody and anything that sets my soul on fire. I'm a dog lover, and all my dogs are considered family members. I have an obsession with photography. I have some close friends who are household names, but shall always remain anonymous. I’m crazy but not lazy. Losing a soulmate has hurt me badly. My two young sons are the nucleus of my universe. I love airports. I love freedom. If you are dishonest or disloyal, I can erase you from my life and memory immediately and permanently. I yearn to explore, dream about and discover as many friendships, deep connections and places, one possibly can in a lifetime.
This entry was posted in Arms Dealing, Terrorism and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s