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    Alleged Russian arms trafficker Viktor Bout, center, escorted by Thai police commandos, arrives at Don muang airport in Bangkok. (File)

    US Judge: Punishment for Russian Viktor Bout 'Excessive, Inappropriate'

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    US Judge Shira Scheindlin, who sentenced Russian businessman Viktor Bout to 25 years in prison in 2012 over allegedly conspiring to kill US citizens, believes the punishment to be excessive.

    NEW YORK (Sputnik) – “They reeled this guy in. They offered him a lot of money…I gave the lowest sentence I could possibly give,” Scheindlin said in an interview with the New York Times published on Monday.

    According to the paper, Scheindlin was not allowed to hand down a sentence less than 25 years because of a US law that allocates minimum sentences to various crimes. At the time, US prosecutors asked the judge to hand down the maximum sentence for Bout, which was life in prison.

    Bout was arrested in Bangkok in 2008 in a joint operation between Thai and US authorities, who accused him of conspiring to kill US nationals by allegedly agreeing to supply Columbian militants with weapons. Undercover agents posing as members of Columbia’s FARC rebel group were used as part of the operation.

    In October 2015, the Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said that Bout was “unjustifiably convicted” and that the case was “another politicized step by the US judicial system, which clearly follows orders from 'above’.” According to the spokeswoman, Russia will continue its efforts to facilitate Bout’s return.


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