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Although prosecutors argued for a life sentence, Viktor Bout only received the mandatory minimum — 25 years in prison. The jury found him guilty on all counts, and sentencing guidelines suggested a life sentence. However, Judge Shira Sheindlin believed that the nature of his arrest, which was compelled by a sting operation, mitigated his punishment, per NBC News. Additionally, after spending 15 months in solitary confinement, Sheindlin approved of his removal. One of the prison’s wardens said Bout posed a threat to guards, other prisoners, and himself, but Sheindlin disagreed. Reducing his status as a criminal to “a businessman,” Sheindlin argued that Bout hadn’t been involved in violent acts himself. Bout himself likely approved; he compared his stay in solitary confinement to perpetual torture, per the New Yorker.
Bout’s lawyer was initially delighted by Sheindlin’s attachment to the trial because of her tough-on-prosecutor approach. During the pretrial, she once implied that the D.E.A. agents that arrested Bout had lied under oath. She also agreed with Bout’s claim that he had been threatened with mistreatment if he didn’t cooperate with U.S. officials. Recently, Scheindlin said that Bout had served enough time to compensate for his charges after his name was floated in a prisoner swap. Although she says that the swap wouldn’t be an even trade, since the Americans involved have relatively minor charges, she argued that Bout wasn’t dealt a wholly fair hand since the DEA operatives “put words in his mouth,” per AP.