Jacques Monsieur, at one time Belgium’s most notorious arms dealer, was this week given a tougher sentence on appeal than he had received in his original trial. Monsieur will now serve four years in prison instead of three, and pay a fine increased from €300,000 to €1.2 million. One more appeal remains to him: to the Cassation Court, but that tribunal only handles matters of legal procedure.
The case against him, which concerned arms sales between 2006 and 2009 to countries including Libya, Chad, Iran and Pakistan, was due to reach its statute of limitations in April next year.
Monsieur was well-known as an arms dealer outside of the dates concerned in the charges; always ready to deal with the least savoury of regimes, regardless of international or national embargoes on arms sales.
The specific charges on which he was convicted included the sale of 100,000 automatic weapons to Libya, tanks and helicopters to Guinea-Bissau, military materials to Iran, 200,000 automatic firearms and ammunition, military helicopters and aircraft to Chad (at the time of a civil war in the country), and rocket launchers and machine guns to Pakistan.
Monsieur has consistently denied being an arms dealer at all, claiming it was a cover for his activities in the service of various intelligence organisations. He appealed his original sentence, but it went against him when the appeals court overturned the lower court’s decision not to convict on a charge of belonging to a criminal organisation – thus leading to the increased sentence.
Monsieur was not immediately arrested and taken into custody, however, the appeals court deciding he could remain at liberty until a decision is taken whether to appeal to Cassation.