Moscow criticizes arms-dealer′s verdict as biased | News | DW | 06.04.2012
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Moscow criticizes arms-dealer's verdict as biased

The foreign ministry in Moscow has criticized a US court decision to sentence a Russian arms dealer to 25 years in prison. Viktor Bout's lawyers plan to appeal.

Viktor Bout

Viktor Bout

Moscow has sharply criticized a US court for sentencing a Russian arms dealer to 25 years in prison.

The court in New York handed down the sentence on Thursday following Viktor Bout's conviction on charges that included conspiring to sell weapons to the Colombia's FARC rebels.

"We consider Viktor bout's 25-year sentence categorically unacceptable, biased and not objective," a Russian foreign ministry spokesman told the Interfax news agency on Friday.

"A Russian citizen was kidnapped on the territory of a third country and extradited to the US. This places under serious question the very grounds on which the charges were made and the fairness of the court decision," the spokesman added.

An earlier Russian foreign ministry statement said that if the ruling is upheld, Moscow would make "all possible efforts" to get Bout sent home to serve out his sentence. His lawyers have said they would appeal.

Minimum sentence a 'victory'

Bout's wife said she regarded the sentence as a victory for her husband because it was the minimum possible.

Watch video 01:18

US court convicts weapons dealer Bout

"The sentence they gave Viktor today is evidently an acknowledgement of the failure of the conclusions and arguments of the prosecution," she told reporters outside the courtroom on Thursday.

The former Soviet military officer was arrested in a US-sting operation carried out in Thailand in 2008 in which US informants posed as arms dealers representing the FARC. He was extradited to the US in 2010.

Bout was convicted by a New York federal court jury last autumn on two counts of conspiracy to kill US nationals and officers of the United States and one count each of conspiracy to sell anti-aircraft missiles and provide support to a terrorist organization.

pfd/tm (Reuters, dpa, AFP)

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