Trafficking Trial Starts in Paris

PARIS -- Russian businessman Arkady Gaydamak and 40 other people charged with trafficking arms to Angola or taking kickbacks faced judges Monday in a long-awaited trial in Paris.

Prosecutors say the two key suspects -- Gaydamak, an Israeli-based tycoon living in France at the time, and French businessman Pierre Falcone -- organized the sale of Russian arms to Angola from 1993 to 2000, for $791 million, in breach of French government rules.

Gaydamak's lawyer, William Goldnagel, told reporters that his client -- a candidate for mayor of Jerusalem -- did not want to do prison time and was planning to travel to Paris for the proceedings next month.

Lawyers for Gaydamak and Falcone argue that there is no reason to pursue the case in a French court because the weapons never transited French territory. Gaydamak and Falcone face a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and thousands of dollars in fines if convicted. The trial is expected to last until March.