By Basil Katz
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Prosecutors asked a federal judge in New York on Friday to send convicted Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, who was the subject of the book "Merchant of Death," to prison for life, a court filing showed.
Bout, a former Soviet air force officer, was convicted in November on charges he agreed to sell arms to people he thought were Colombian militants intent on attacking U.S. soldiers. He faces a mandatory minimum 25-year sentence.
"Although Bout has often described himself as nothing more than a businessman, he was a businessman of the most dangerous order," federal prosecutors said in the filing.
Throughout his three-week trial in Manhattan federal court, Bout maintained he was set-up by the U.S. government. His lawyers even asked the judge this week not to sentence him at all.
Bout was arrested in Bangkok in 2008 in a sting operation by U.S. agents posing as arms buyers from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, known as FARC and considered by the United States to be a terrorist group. He was extradited to the United States in 2010 to face trial in New York.
Sentencing was scheduled for April 5.
In Friday's filing, prosecutors asked U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin to impose the harshest sentence because of the need to deter other non-state actors from brokering arms sales with suspected militant groups.
A lawyer for Bout said in papers earlier this week that Bout was an innocent victim of "particularly odious governmental conduct" by the United States, and should be cleared of all charges.
(Reporting By Basil Katz; Editing by Cynthia Johnston)