News

    Russian Arms Trafficker Bout Sentenced to 25 Years in US Prison

    Artist's drawing of Viktor Bout in court
    Artist's drawing of Viktor Bout in court
    Carolyn Weaver

    A federal judge in New York Thursday sentenced Russian arms trafficker Viktor Bout to 25 years in prison for conspiring to sell weapons to a U.S.-designated foreign terrorist group based in Colombia.

    U.S. District Judge Shira A. Scheindlin could have sentenced Bout to three life terms for his conviction on four counts of conspiracy to kill Americans, to sell anti-aircraft missiles, and to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization.

    She chose instead to depart from sentencing guidelines, imposing 15-year terms on three counts and a required 25-year-minimum for a fourth, all to serve concurrently.  The judge also ordered Bout to forfeit $15 million dollars, an amount equivalent to the value of the arms he had offered to sell U.S. informants posing as rebels from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC.

    The judge said she was imposing the lighter sentences because Bout was arrested in a U.S. sting operation in 2008 and had never before expressed any interest in harming Americans.

    Before the Drug Enforcement Administration went after Bout, she said, there was no evidence that Bout had broken U.S. laws or those of any other country - although he had violated international laws in his past arms dealing, she said, and was a dangerous man.

    The judge said it was not clear if Bout was even still in the arms trade for several years before he traveled to Thailand to meet with DEA confidential informants posing as FARC rebels who had offered to pay him millions for arms.

    Before the sentencing, Bout addressed the judge, repeating his claims of innocence, and turned to wag his finger at the DEA agent in charge of the case, saying, "Let God forgive you and you will answer to him, not to me."

    Kathi Lynn Austin, an arms control advocate, said that the trial did not address Bout's past dealing arms in conflict regions in Africa -- or his air cargo contracts with the U.S. government during the Iraq war, even after United Nations sanctions against him in 2004.

    "The most disappointing aspect of the trial is that it doesn't set any precedent for what we need to do to go after criminal arms traffickers in the future.  The prosecution's decision to hide the past of what activities had been committed on U.S. soil, possibly hiding previous U.S. government collusion with Viktor Bout, actually worked against them," Austin said.

    Bout's attorney, Albert Dayan, said that Bout would appeal his conviction.  An official for Russia's consulate in New York refused to comment after the sentencing, although Russia's government has urged Bout's release.

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora