Russia calls US sentence of Bout 'baseless and biased'
MOSCOW - Agence France- Presse
In this courtroom illustration Viktor Bout, a Russian arms dealer caught in an undercover sting operation by U.S. agents posing as Colombian guerrillas seeking weapons, speaks during his sentencing in New York April 5, 2012. REUTERS PhotoMoscow today condemned the United States' sentencing of Russian arms smuggler Viktor Bout as "baseless and biased" and said it would do all it could to ensure his return home.
"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.
It added that Moscow would make "all possible efforts to return Viktor Bout to the Motherland, using for this all the existing international legal mechanisms," repeating a call it made on November 3 when he was found guilty.
Bout, 45, was sentenced to 25 years in jail Thursday after being found guilty of conspiring to sell arms to anti-US guerrillas in Columbia. He was the inspiration behind the arms smuggler played by Nicolas Cage in "Lord of War" (2005).
The Russian ministry condemned the US jury trial, saying that it relied on "shaky evidence" and accusing the legal system of carrying out a "clear political order." It also said that Bout's case would "remain among our priorities on the Russian-US agenda." Bout's wife, Alla, earlier called the 25-year sentence handed to her husband a "victory" because it was the minimum possible, in comments broadcast on Russian television.
"The sentence they gave Viktor today is evidently an acknowledgement of the failure of the conclusions and arguments of the prosecution," she said in comments outside the courtroom.
"I consider this is a victory for Viktor and his defence." Bout's defence team also announced plans to appeal his sentence.