Arms dealer Viktor Bout, blamed for arming Al Qaeda, receives 25 years in prison (+video)
An angry Moscow has vowed to repatriate Russian arms merchant Viktor Bout, whom a US court convicted of conspiring to kill American citizens.
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International weapons trafficker Viktor Bout of Russia was sentenced to 25 years in prison in a New York court yesterday, ending a four-year bid to bring to justice the man who is accused of arming Al Qaeda and the Taliban, among others.
Mr. Bout, nicknamed the "merchant of death," was taken into custody in 2008 in Bangkok, Thailand, in a US Drug Enforcement Agency sting in which agents pretended to be members of Colombia's rebel Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). It took 2-1/2 years to extradite him to the US to stand trial, a process Russia considered to be a violation of international law.
The former Soviet officer was convicted last fall of conspiring to kill American citizens, officers, and employees by agreeing to sell weapons to FARC, which he believed was "intent on killing Americans," The New York Times reports. The deal included "tens of thousands of AK-47 rifles, millions of rounds of ammunition, hundreds of missiles, ultra-lightweight airplanes and other military equipment."
Prosecutors had sought a life sentence for Bout, but the fact that he was captured in a sting appeared to work in his favor, the Associated Press reports. US District Judge Shira Scheindlin said that 25 years was sufficient because "there was no evidence … Bout would have been charged with seeking to harm Americans if not approached by informants posing as Colombian rebels."