U.S. pros­e­cu­tors cast Ne­vada rancher as leader of con­spir­acy

Sun Sentinel Broward Edition - - NATION & WORLD -

LAS VE­GAS — Ne­vada rancher Cliven Bundy was cast Tues­day as the leader of a con­spir­acy to en­list armed mili­tia mem­bers to force fed­eral agents, “at the end of a gun,” to aban­don ef­forts to col­lect his cat­tle from public range­land.

As the long-awaited trial opened in Las Ve­gas, act­ing U.S. At­tor­ney Steven Myhre re­jected sup­port­ers’ char­ac­ter­i­za­tions of the 71year-old Bundy, sons Ryan and Am­mon Bundy and co-de­fen­dant Ryan Payne as peace­ful pro­test­ers and states’ rights free­dom fight­ers.

“This case is not about protest­ing. This case is about break­ing the law,” Myhre told a jury that con­vened after a one-week de­lay to hear a case that Chief U.S. District Judge Glo­ria Navarro has told them could take four months.

“This is not a case about cat­tle graz­ing,” Myhre said. “It’s about whether you use force and vi­o­lence to en­force your be­lief.”

The pros­e­cu­tor used his open­ing state­ment to cast as lit­tle more than ex­tor­tion and theft the April 12, 2014, armed stand­off that led the fed­eral Bureau of Land Man­age­ment to aban­don round­ing up Bundy cat­tle and re­lease al­most 400 cows.

“They got what they wanted that day,” he told the jury. “They got it at the end of a gun.”

De­fense at­tor­neys were due up next be­fore the fed­eral jury in Las Ve­gas. They’ve said the four men didn’t con­spire with any­one and didn’t wield weapons — and that no shots were fired in the stand­off near Bunkerville, about 80 miles north­east of Las Ve­gas.

Cliven Bundy’s lawyer, Bret Whip­ple, was ex­pected to say the stand­off amounted to a peace­ful protest in­volv­ing like­minded states’ rights sup­port­ers. The trial is ex­pected to be con­tentious.

ARGIRIS MADIKOS/EUROKINISSI

Busi­ness hangs in the bal­ance: A store worker cleans up dam­age Tues­day in front of a washed-up and oddly sus­pended ve­hi­cle fol­low­ing a storm on the Greek is­land of Symi.

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