A Russian man who became known as the “Merchant of Death” for his exploits in the arms sales markets worldwide is set to learn how long he’ll be in prison after his defense lawyers asked a judge to set him free and prosecutors asked that he never get out.
Viktor Bout, 45, faces a mandatory minimum of 25 years in prison and possibly life during sentencing Thursday for his conviction on terrorism charges. His lawyers have asked U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin to throw out his conviction, saying he’s a political prisoner who stepped into a vindictive U.S. government sting operation.
Federal prosecutors say Bout should spend life in prison because he agreed “without hesitation and with frightening speed” to ship “a breathtaking arsenal of weapons,” including hundreds of surface-to-air missiles, machine guns and sniper rifles along with 10 million rounds of ammunition to men he believed represented a foreign terrorist organization willing to kill Americans in Colombia.
Source: Larry Neumeister for the Associated Press.