A federal U.S. appeals court has upheld the conviction of Russian-born arms dealer Viktor Bout for conspiring to kill Americans, rejecting his argument that he was a victim of a "vindictive" prosecution, including the international sting that led to his capture, Reuters reports.
The Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York said last week that the U.S. government had sufficient motive to pursue Bout by "widespread concern" that he was engaged in criminal activity, reflected by his presence on numerous U.S. and United Nations sanctions lists. In 2004, the U.N. Security Council placed Bout on a sanctions list for allegedly supplying weapons to Liberian dictator Charles Taylor in exchange for diamonds during that country's civil war. Bout was also placed on the U.N. travel ban list in March 2004 for his association with Taylor.
The court also rejected Bout's argument that his 2010 extradition from Thailand to face the U.S. charges was the illegal result of "intense, coercive political pressure" by the United States, which he said had no reason to target him, according to Reuters.
Bout is serving a 25-year prison sentence after a Manhattan federal jury convicted him on four conspiracy counts in November 2011. In April 2012, he was sentenced to prison.
Bout was convicted of conspiring to kill U.S. soldiers and other citizens by having agreed to sell arms to U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration informants who had been posing as members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), which is designated by the U.S. government as being a foreign terrorist organization. Bout was also found guilty of conspiring to acquire and export anti-aircraft missiles, and provide material support to a terrorist organization.
For more background on Bout, click here: http://tinyurl.com/odl34l2