NEW YORK – A federal judge in Manhattan has cast doubt on charges against an ex-Soviet officer accused of selling arms to terrorists.
Lawyers for arms dealer Viktor Bout (boot) had asked Judge Shira Scheindlin to toss out the case alleging he supplied weapons to Colombian rebels that the State Department have labeled a terrorist organization.
The judge warned prosecutors at a hearing Thursday that some evidence against Bout appeared "thin." But she put off a decision on the defense motion to dismiss.
The 44-year-old Bout was arrested in a 2008 sting at a Thailand hotel where U.S. operatives met him while posing as anti-American rebels. He was extradited last year to the United States to face trial.
Bout has pleaded not guilty to conspiracy charges that carry a possible life term.