Openings begin in NYC trial for ex-Soviet officer

By LARRY NEUMEISTER | October 12, 2011 | 12:40 PM EDT

FILE - This Nov. 16, 2010, file photo, provided by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), shows Russian arms trafficking suspect Viktor Bout, center, led by DEA officers off a flight From Bangkok to New York after his extradition to face terrorism charges despite a final outraged push by Russian diplomats. For nearly 20 years Bout, a former Soviet military officer who speaks four languages, ruled an empire of the air through a private fleet of long-haul cargo planes. He faces trial this week in a New York federal court for what Western governments say was his specialty, transporting tons of weapons that inflamed violence across the world's war zones. (AP Photo/Drug Enforcement Administration, File)

NEW YORK (AP) — A prosecutor has told jurors at the opening of trial in New York City that a former Soviet military officer wanted to kill Americans and agreed to sell weapons to anti-American rebels.

A defense lawyer for Viktor Bout (boot) responded Wednesday that his client was saying whatever he needed to say to sell two cargo planes for $5 million. He says Bout had no intention to sell weapons.

Bout, dubbed the Merchant of Death, was arrested in March 2008 in a Bangkok hotel.

Just before openings began, the trial judge warned jurors not to reveal on social media sites that they're on the case. She had them sign a pledge a day earlier not to research it on the Internet.