Friday Apr 06, 201210:40 AM GMT
Russia slams US court over Bout sentence
Alleged Russian arms smuggler, Viktor Bout (file photo)
Fri Apr 6, 2012 10:31AM
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Russia has reacted strongly to a US court’s sentencing alleged Russian arms smuggler, Viktor Bout, to 25 years behind bars.

"The Russian Foreign Ministry views the US court verdict sentencing Viktor Bout to 25 years in prison as baseless and biased," the ministry said in a statement on Friday, AFP reported.

Found guilty in November of attempting to sell heavy arms to a Colombian rebel group, Bout was handed down the sentence at a New York federal court on Thursday. He was also convicted of four counts of conspiracy to kill Americans.

The statement said that Moscow would make "all possible efforts to return Viktor Bout to the Motherland, using for this all the existing international legal mechanisms."

It added that Bout's case would "remain among our priorities on the Russian-US agenda."

Bout, dubbed the merchant of death by his accusers, has maintained that he is innocent and says he will fight the verdict in higher courts.

The head of the Russian lower house of parliament's international affairs committee, Alexei Pushkov, said he believed Bout was not guilty and accused the United States of anti-Russian bias.

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