‘Merchant of Death’ Bout Complains About Jail as Judge Upholds Conviction

International arms dealer Viktor Bout lost a bid to overturn his conviction for plotting to sell a terrorist group millions of dollars worth of weapons including surface-to-air missiles.

U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin in Manhattan rejected the motion today at a hearing where Bout complained about conditions at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York.

Bout, a former Soviet air force officer once called the “merchant of death,” was found guilty of conspiracy by a jury last year for attempting to conduct an arms sale with two men posing as members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia. He has yet to be sentenced.

Bout was arrested in Bangkok in March 2008 in a sting operation set up by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and flown to New York for prosecution.

At today’s hearing, Bout complained to the judge about his solitary detention and asked to be released into the general inmate population at the Lower Manhattan federal jail, where Scheindlin said his conditions seemed “harsh” and “brutal.”

The case is U.S. v. Bout, 08-cr-0365, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

To contact the reporter on this story: Bob Van Voris in New York at rvanvoris@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net.

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