NY judge: Ex-Soviet arms dealer will get 25 years

LARRY NEUMEISTER Associated Press Published:

NEW YORK (AP) -- A federal judge at a New York City sentencing hearing for a former Soviet arms dealer dubbed the Merchant of Death says she'll sentence him to 25 years.

Thursday's hearing is for 45-year-old Viktor Bout, who was convicted on terrorism charges that grew from a U.S. sting operation. Bout faces a mandatory minimum of 25 years in prison and a maximum of life in prison.

The judge hasn't officially handed down the sentence yet.

The ex-Soviet officer has been jailed since his arrest four years ago in Thailand after he met U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration operatives posing as agents of a Colombian terrorism group. He was extradited to the U.S. for trial in 2010.

Prosecutors say he was ready to sell up to $20 million in weapons including surface-to-air missiles to shoot down U.S. helicopters.

Bout insists he's a legitimate businessman.