A federal judge sentenced Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout to 25 years in prison for conspiring to sell weapons to Colombian rebels intending to attack U.S. pilots.
Bout, known as the "Merchant of Death," continued to claimed he was innocent of the charges, including four counts of conspiracy to kill Americans, to sell anti-aircraft missiles and to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization.
U.S. District Judge Shira A. Scheindlin sentenced Bout to 15-year terms on three of these counts and a required 25-year-minimum for a fourth, all to be served concurrently. She also ordered him to pay $15 million in damages and fees.
The judge said she went with a lighter sentence because Bout was arrested after a U.S. sting operation in 2008 and had never expressed any interest in harming Americans, according to Voice of America.
During the sting operation in Bangkok, Bout offered to sell weapons to U.S. informants posing as rebels from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, a foreign terrorist organization banned by the U.S. State Department.
During the trial, prosecutors said the U.S. agents told Bout the weapons would be used to attack U.S. pilots, according to the BBC.
Russia condemned the sentencing Friday, describing it as "unfounded and biased" and "clearly political," according to the BBC. The Russian foreign ministry said it will take all necessary actions to bring Bout home.
Bout's attorney, Albert Dayan, said he will appeal the judge's decision.
by RTT Staff Writer
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