| 19.5°C Dublin

Russia vows to help 'Merchant of Death'

Close

Russian arms smuggler Viktor Bout is escorted into court by members of the special police unit.

Russian arms smuggler Viktor Bout is escorted into court by members of the special police unit.

Russian arms smuggler Viktor Bout is escorted into court by members of the special police unit.

Moscow has criticised the jailing in New York of a Russian arms trafficker known as the 'Merchant of Death'.

Russia's foreign ministry accused American justice yesterday of "fulfilling a political order", saying the sentence was "unfounded".

A federal court sentenced Viktor Bout to 25 years in prison for conspiring to sell weapons to Colombian guerrillas who were actually US agents in disguise.

Russian envoys said the conviction rested on "shaky" evidence. The foreign ministry claimed America used "unbearable conditions" in detention as a means of physically and psychologically pressuring Bout during his trial.

It said: "Long before the verdict, the authorities declared Bout a 'merchant of death' and little short of an international terrorist, while the prosecution was built entirely on his imputed 'criminal intent'.

"The Russian foreign ministry will take all necessary efforts to return Bout to the motherland," said a spokeperson.

Bout (45), a former Soviet army officer, was arrested in Thailand in 2008 after a sting operation in which he promised to drop 100 Igla shoulder-fired missiles, 20,000 rifles and 10 million rounds of ammunition to Farc rebels in Colombia, who were actually two US government informants.

Bout was extradited to America in 2010. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent