Russian arms dealer gets 25 years

April 5, 2012 at 7:16 PM
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NEW YORK, April 5 (UPI) -- A judge in New York Thursday sentenced Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout to 25 years in prison for selling weapons he intended to be used to kill Americans.

The so-called merchant of death was convicted in November on charges of arms trafficking and terrorism conspiracy. He told U.S District Judge Shira A. Scheindlin Thursday he is innocent, CNN reported.

"I am not guilty," Bout said through a translator. "I never intended to kill anyone. I never intended to sell any arms to anyone. God knows this is the truth."

Bout, 45, had faced life in prison for conspiring to sell millions of dollars worth of weapons -- including 700 to 800 surface-to-air missiles -- to men he believed were terrorists who planned to kill Americans. The men he thought were members of the Colombia terrorist group the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia were actually informants, The New York Times said.

"Viktor Bout has been international arms trafficking enemy number one for many years, arming some of the most violent conflicts around the globe," said Preet Bharara, the U.S. attorney in Manhattan. "He was finally brought to justice in an American court for agreeing to provide a staggering number of military-grade weapons to an avowed terrorist organization committed to killing Americans."

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