NEW YORK — A US judge on Thursday sentenced Russian “merchant of death” arms smuggler Viktor Bout to 25 years in prison for conspiring to sell a massive arsenal to anti-American guerrillas in Colombia.
Bout, 45, has been accused of selling arms to despots and insurgency groups embroiled in some of the world’s bloodiest conflicts and was the inspiration for the arms smuggler played by Nicolas Cage in “Lord of War” (2005).
US District Judge Shira Scheindlin decided to give Bout the minimum required sentence of 25 years on one count and 15 years for each of the three other counts of which he was found guilty, to run concurrently.
“Twenty-five years is sufficient,” Scheindlin said after Bout made a statement to the court, insisting he was innocent.
The sentencing had been delayed twice, with Bout’s lawyer demanding more time to prepare his request for leniency and accusing prosecutors of “outrageous government conduct” in allegedly entrapping the Russian.
The Russian — widely dubbed the “merchant of death” — was lured to Thailand and arrested there in 2008 at the end of a US sting operation that stretched from the Caribbean island of Curacao to central Europe.
Bout was eventually extradited to the United States and convicted in November on four counts of conspiring to sell missiles to terrorists and to kill US troops.