Belgium's self-proclaimed 'James Bond' gets 4 years in prison

Belgium's self-proclaimed 'James Bond' gets 4 years in prison

Jacques Monsieur (66), Belgium's most notorious arms dealer, was sentenced to four years in prison by the Court of Appeal.
For 25 years, the son of a notary scoured world-wide conflict areas to sell massive amounts of weapons. He was convicted of having sold tons of firearms, fighter planes and tanks for years to controversial regimes in Africa, the Middle East and Asia.

Monsieur was full of confidence during his first trial two years ago, reports Het Nieuwsblad. "I worked for intelligence agencies," was the bottom line of his plea. "The ones from the US army as well as the French ones. They approached me. With their blessing, I was allowed to sell weapons to certain regimes and groups. It was the perfect cover to win their trust and gather information that western espionage agencies would have needed to guess at."

Monsieur, who was nicknamed 'Le Maréchal' (The Fox), looked for clients in war zones, where due to international embargoes no weapons were allowed to be supplied, such as Iran or Iraq. He sold 6,000 TOW-antitank missiles to IS, which earned him 83 million dollars. He was involved in the civil war in former-Yugoslavia: from Iran, he supplied weapons to the Croatian troops as well as the Bosnian Muslim fighters. 

In 2017 he stood trial because he was involved in the sale of five combat helicopters, 12 tanks and radio equipment to Guinea-Bissau between 2006 and 2009. To Libya, he helped deliver 100,000 automatic rifles. To Chad, he was involved in dealing 200,000 'regular' rifles, four combat helicopters and two fighter jets. Others on his list: selling anti-aircraft missiles and armoured vehicles to Pakistan, the sale of six C-130 transport plains to Indonesia and of millions of bullets to Iran.

Monsieur himself has always vehemently denied those accusations. According to him, the arms dealing only served as an excuse for his "groundbreaking espionage work". He also denies being the go-between for other arms dealers and their clients. His lawyers argued for an acquittal, but in the end, the court sentenced him to 4 years in prison effectively and a fine of 1.2 million euros.

Noteworthy is that the court mostly hoped to punish Monsieur financially. His illegal arms trafficking would have earned him an estimate of nine million euros, which the court wanted to reclaim by seizing his more than 100 real-estate properties. But in his arrest, the Brussels court of appeal rejected that, stating that the investigation did not provide enough elements to demonstrate that Monsieur actually received all his commission wages.

In the past, Monsieur has already been sentenced several times. In Brussels, the US and France as well.

Maïthé Chini
The Brussels Times

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