Russia calls arms-dealer conviction political

Moscow says US court's decision to uphold conviction of Russian arms smuggler Viktor Bout a "political stitch-up".

    Russia calls arms-dealer conviction political
    Some observers say Bout's smuggling operations would have been impossible without Kremlin protection [Reuters]

    Moscow has slammed as a "political stitch-up" a decision by a US appeals court to uphold the conviction of notorious Russian arms smuggler Viktor Bout.

    The United States' legal machine once again rubber-stamped an obvious political stitch-up job despite the obvious weakness of the body of evidence.

    Russian foreign ministry,

    "The judges ignored the obvious facts of unlawful actions by US special services that led to Viktor Bout's detention in Thailand and his illegal extradition to the United States," the Russian foreign ministry said in a statement on Saturday.

    "The United States' legal machine once again rubber-stamped an obvious political stitch-up job despite the obvious weakness of the body of evidence," the ministry said, calling the decision "unjust and politicised".

    "Such a biased attitude to our compatriot who has not committed any crime on the territory of the United States stands in sharp contrast with the leniency of US judicial authorities towards murderers and rapists of Russian children adopted by US nationals."

    The ministry, which has repeatedly complained that Russian adoptees are routinely mistreated in the US, said it would press ahead with efforts to have Bout extradited to Russia.

    In April 2012, a US judge sentenced Bout to 25 years in prison for conspiring to sell a massive arsenal to anti-American guerillas in Colombia. A US appeals court in New York upheld the conviction on Friday.

    The mustachioed Russian was the inspiration for the arms smuggler played by Nicolas Cage in the 2005 Hollywood film "Lord of War".

    He is believed to have been the world's biggest black market arms dealer in recent decades, arming African warlords and dictators.

    Russian money

    Some observers have said that Bout's vast smuggling operations would have been impossible without protection from the Kremlin, noting the Russian foreign ministry has expended an impressive amount of energy defending the smuggler.

    US agents posing as members of the leftist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, a US-designated terrorist organisation, lured Bout to Thailand from his native Russia.

    In Bangkok, they pretended to be seeking infantry and anti-aircraft missiles to shoot down American pilots helping the Colombian military.

    SOURCE: AFP


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