Arms Dealer Viktor Bout Sentenced to 25 Years


Dubbed the “Merchant of Death,” unruly Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout was sentenced Thursday to 25 years in prison.

The terrorism charges were brought about four years after a U.S. sting operation resulted in his arrest in Thailand, where he stayed until his extradition in late 2010. Charged with four counts of conspiracy for his support of a Colombian terrorist organization, the judge ordered a $15 million forfeiture.

The defense took a firm stance, saying Bout was a political prisoner and a victim of sting operations that made it seem as though he hated Americans and was eager to sell missiles to a Columbian operation to shoot down American helicopters. The prosecution, who had sought a life term, claims that Bout’s weapons fueled armed disputes in the world’s most dangerous territories, including Angola, the Congo and Rwanda and that he was looking to deal in places such as Libya and Tanzania before his arrest.

Bout was the inspiration for the character played by Nicolas Cage in the 2005 movie “Lord Of War” and still maintains that he is a legitimate businessman. The prosecution stated that Bout’s actions constituted a threat to the United States based on his history of arming some of the most dangerous and unstable dictators and their regimes, also noting that the U.S Department of Treasury had banned dealing with Bout in July of 2004.

After arguing and becoming noticeably upset, Bout hugged his lawyer and waved to his wife before exiting the courtroom.

Photo credit: Damir Sagolj/REUTERS