Russia Fumes Over 'Merchant of Death' Trial

Viktor Bout is an innocent man, says Moscow
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 6, 2012 5:43 PM CDT
In this courtroom illustration, defendant Viktor Bout, right, is seated next to his defense lawyer Albert Dayan at the federal courthouse in New York, Thursday, April 5, 2012.   (AP Photo/Elizabeth Williams)
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(Newser) – Moscow isn't happy about the arrest and conviction of Russian arms dealer Victor Bout, MSNBC reports. This will “one of our top priorities in Russian-American relations," said a Russian official, a day after the so-called "Merchant of Death" was sentenced by a New York judge to 25 years in prison on terrorism charges. “In this situation we are not seeking revenge, but want to help Viktor Bout," the official said. "We are not proceeding by a desire to take revenge at any price."

That said, Moscow accused US agents of arresting Bout illegally by "political order," ignoring legal arguments and appeals, and trying to force his confession "by both physical and psychological means." Bout himself cried out "It's a lie!" yesterday when a federal prosecutor argued for a life sentence. The judge gave him 25 years instead, saying prosecutors lacked proof of Bout's intent to hurt Americans before informants approached him posing as Colombian rebels.

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