An Ilyushin-76TD belonging to suspected Boutco Jet Line International has crashed into Lake Victoria immediately after take-off from Mwanza. All 8 crew were killed. The aircraft was ER-IBR, serial number 43454623, belonging to Jet Line of Chisinau, but apparently operating as Airline Transport, another suspect outfit from Moldova. Unlike Aerocom and Jet Line, Airline Transport doesn’t share an office, but it has flown to Iraq.
Reports have it that the aircraft carried “fish” on its way to Croatia, but then Viktor Bout has frequently claimed that his aircraft carry only “fish and flowers”, so frequently that it has reached the status of an aviation joke that an aircraft loaded with “fish” probably contains contraband. (Perhaps the smell of fish transported in tropical heat keeps Customs away.)
This continues a bad year for Viktor B. Not only do aircraft keep crashing, one of his closest partners, the Dutch hotelier and intimate of Charles Taylor, Gus van Kouwenhoven, is rumoured to have been arrested on charges of “complicity in crimes against humanity” when he took an ill-advised trip to Holland. Van Kouwenhoven owns or owned the Hotel Africa in Monrovia, where all of the network’s aircrew passing through Monrovia stayed, and was a partner in the main logging companies connected to Taylor and Emmanuel Shaw (Royal Timber and the Orient Timber Company). He is also connected to the Liberian International Ship and Corporate Registry, based in Virginia, which infamously paid large sums of money to Richard Chichakli’s San Air General Trading, presumably for services rendered and goods supplied. I haven’t been able to trace more than one story on the arrest, though.