NEW YORK (AP) — 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 US attorney’s office said in court papers.
The request was made in a memorandum to US Federal District Court Judge Shira Scheindlin, who is scheduled to sentence Bout on April 5 in New York.
He faces a minimum mandatory sentence of 25 years in prison. Prosecutors also asked the judge to order Bout to forfeit $20 million as part of the sentence
Bout, known as the Merchant of Death, was convicted in November of charges he sold weapons to a US government operative posing as a go-between for South American terrorists who wanted to shoot down US 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 was innocent.
He called on the judge not to sentence Bout and to dismiss the indictment.
In February, Scheindlin ordered Bout to be moved from solitary confinement to the general population at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan. He had been in solitary confinement since being brought to the US from Thailand following his 2008 arrest. Scheindlin rejected prosecutors’ objections when she determined there was no basis for believing that Bout posed a greater danger than other inmates.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.