CHIANGRAI TIMES – Viktor Bout, the Russian arms dealer known as the ‘Merchant of Death’, was today sentenced to 25 years in prison by a New York judge.
The 45-year-old was captured in Thailand in 2010, in an elaborate sting operation by US officials posing as Colombian terrorists seeking to buy £20 million of weapons, including surface to air missiles to shoot down American helicopters.
Born in Tajikistan, he is said to have armed dictators and fuelled some of the world’s most bloody conflicts over the last two decades, including in Rwanda and Angola. Bout is also said to have been the inspiration for the arms dealer character played by Nicolas Cage in the 2005 film Lord of War.
A former officer in the Soviet army, Bout had always insisted that he was a legitimate businessman.
But he was found guilty in November of conspiracy to kill Americans, delivering anti-aircraft missiles, and aiding a terrorist organisation.
At his sentencing hearing at New York’s Federal Court, as a prosecutor told the court that Bout had agreed to sell weapons to kill Americans, he shouted: “It’s a lie!” He told the judge he “never intended to kill anyone” adding, “God knows this truth.”