Support The Moscow Times!

Life Sentence Sought for Arms Dealer

NEW YORK — A Russian arms dealer convicted of conspiring to sell weapons to South American terrorists is a "businessman of the most dangerous order" and should be sentenced to life in prison, federal prosecutors argued Friday.

Viktor Bout, a global arms trafficker, who eluded authorities for decades and was sanctioned by the United Nations, was "ready, willing and able to provide a breathtaking arsenal of weapons" to a terrorist organization that planned to target Americans, the U.S. attorney's office said in court papers.

The request was made in a memorandum to U.S. Federal District Court Judge Shira Scheindlin, who is scheduled to sentence Bout on April 5 in New York.

He faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years in prison. Prosecutors also asked the judge to order Bout to forfeit $20 million.

Bout, known as the Merchant of Death, was convicted in November of selling weapons to a U.S. government operative posing as a go-between for South American terrorists who wanted to shoot down U.S. helicopter pilots.

Defense attorney Albert Dayan said in court papers filed Wednesday that the case against Bout was "the product of outrageous, inexcusable government conduct" and that his client is innocent.

He called on the judge not to sentence Bout and to dismiss the indictment.

Read more

Independent journalism isn’t dead. You can help keep it alive.

As the only remaining independent, English-language news source reporting from Russia, The Moscow Times plays a critical role in connecting Russia to the world.

Editorial decisions are made entirely by journalists in our newsroom, who adhere to the highest ethical standards. We fearlessly cover issues that are often considered off-limits or taboo in Russia, from domestic violence and LGBT issues to the climate crisis and a secretive nuclear blast that exposed unknowing doctors to radiation.

As we approach the holiday season, please consider making a one-time donation — or better still a recurring donation — to The Moscow Times to help us continue producing vital, high-quality journalism about the world’s largest country.