(Rapaport…March 4, 2002) Belgian authorities have issued an international warrant for the arrest of Russian arms dealer and accused conflict diamonds trader Victor Bout, who is also accused of selling weapons to Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaida network and to the Taliban. Authorities believe that Bout is presently living in Russia, and they are waiting for further information from Russian authorities.
The warrant follows Belgian authorities’ February 5 arrest of Sanjivan Ruprah, one of Bout’s suspected associates and also a key figure in the blood diamonds trade. Both men were placed on a UN list of individuals banned from travel because of support for Angolan and Sierra Leonean rebels. Bout publicly denied any links to al-Qaida during a radio interview broadcast live in Moscow on February 28.