Russian Arms Dealer Receives 25-Year Sentence

The Russian arms dealer known as the “Merchant of Death” was sentenced to 25 years in prison, New York Circuit Court Judge Shira Scheindlin announced at a hearing Thursday.  His sentence, the mandatory minimum, falls far short of the lifetime sentence prosecutors asked for.

Scheindlin told the court that the sentence was sufficient because the crimes in the trial originated in a sting by US Drug Enforcement agents, who posed as leaders of a Colombian terrorist organization seeking weapons from Bout.

The judge said there was no evidence that Bout, 45, had planned to harm Americans or to commit a crime punishable in American courts without the sting.

“But for the approach made through this determined sting operation, there is no reason to believe Bout would ever have committed the charged crimes,” she said.

Bout, speaking through an interpreter, told Scheindlin that he “never intended to kill anyone,” adding that “God knows the truth.”  

When the prosecutor said Bout had agreed to sell weapons that would help the Colombian rebel group kill Americans, Bout interjected “It’s a lie!”

Russian authorities have condemned Bout's guilty verdict as biased and continue to try to repatriate him.

Bout was arrested in in a Thai hotel room in 2008 before his extradition to the US in late 2010.  He was found guilty in February of conspiracy to support the Colombian terrorist organization FARC.

Bout’s sentencing was originally set for February but was postponed several times.