6 Apr 2012

Russian arms dealer jailed in US for 25 years

7:56 pm on 6 April 2012

A Russian arms dealer has been sentenced to prison for 25 years by a United States judge in New York.

Viktor Bout, the subject of a book titled Merchant of Death, was arrested in Bangkok in 2008 after Drug Enforcement Administration agents posed as Colombian guerrillas seeking weapons.

The 45-year-old was extradited to New York in November 2010 to face trial.

Prosecutors say Bout constituted a threat to the US and the world. The defence argued that he was just trying to sell two old cargo aircraft for $US5 million.

Bout was convicted by a Manhattan federal court jury in November last year after a three-week trial.

Judge Shira Scheindlin also ordered him to forfeit $US15 million during sentencing on Thursday.

US agencies said he has been involved in arms-trafficking since the 1990s to dictators and conflict zones in Africa, South America and the Middle East.

Russia says the ruling is groundless and politically motivated.

The foreign ministry says the US judicial system had carried out an obvious political order, ignoring the arguments of the defence lawyers in convicting and sentencing Bout.

Bout's lawyer says he plans to lodge an appeal.