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Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Viktor Bout Convicted Sentencing in 2012

NEW YORK, Nov. 2 (UPI) -- Viktor Bout was convicted Wednesday of peddling military arms to undercover agents the Russian thought were Colombian rebels bent on killing U.S. soldiers.

It took a federal court jury in New York that heard three weeks of testimony about 8 hours of deliberations to find the man dubbed the "Merchant of Death" guilty on four counts of conspiring to kill Americans, exporting anti-aircraft missiles and aiding terrorists, the New York Daily News reported.

The 44-year-old weapons dealer is to be sentenced Feb. 8. He could receive life in prison.

Federal prosecutor Preet Bharara expressed pleasure with the "swift verdict."

"Justice has been done and a very dangerous man will be behind bars," he said.

"Viktor Bout was ready to sell a weapons arsenal that would be the envy of some small countries."

Defense attorney Kenneth Kaplan said the verdict would be appealed.

"We are disappointed. We gave it a good fight," he said. "We still have legal options."

Bout, a former Soviet military officer, was arrested in Thailand in 2008 on charges he allegedly offered to sell Russian anti-aircraft weapons to FBI agents posing as members of the Colombian militant group FARC.

In closing arguments Tuesday in federal court, Assistant U.S. Attorney Brendan McGuire said Bout offered to be a "one-stop shop" for FARC.

CNN said American officials consider Bout among the most notorious of global arms traffickers. The 2005 Nicolas Cage film "Lord of War" was inspired by Bout's life.

Defense attorney Albert Dayan contended Bout, who is in the transport business, was baited by federal agents into selling weapons to order to close a deal for airplanes.

the Rest @ UPI

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