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Pennsylvania man convicted of torturing victim for 39 days, exporting weapons parts to Iraq

A Pennsylvania man was convicted of multiple crimes, including torture, in connection with the operation of an illegal weapons manufacturing plant in Iraq. 

The 54-year-old man, identified by federal authorities as Ross Roggio of Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, was convicted by a federal jury on May 19. The Department of Justice announced the outcome of the trial in a news release shared on Monday. The crimes took place in the Kurdistan region of Iraq. 

Roggio was developing a weapons factory in the region, where he provided training to foreign citizens involved in the operation, assembly and manufacturing of the M4 automatic rifle. He also illegally exported weapons parts that were under restriction from the U.S. State and Commerce Departments. 

According to court documents and trial evidence, Roggio tortured an Estonian citizen who worked at the factory for over a month in 2015. The victim, who was not identified, was abducted and detained at a Kurdish military compound, where Roggio suffocated and threatened him. Roggio also directed Kurdish soldiers at the compound to beat and "otherwise physically and mentally abuse" the victim for 39 days. 

The victim eventually came forward, which officials said led to Roggio's conviction on multiple counts. 

"Roggio brutally tortured another human being to prevent interference with his illegal activities," said Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite, Jr. of the Justice Department's Criminal Division in a news release. "Thanks to the courage of the victim and other witnesses, the hard work of U.S. law enforcement, and the assistance of Estonian authorities, he will now be held accountable for his cruelty."

Roggio was convicted of torture, conspiracy to commit torture, conspiring to commit an offense against the United States, exporting weapons parts and services to Iraq without the approval of the Department of State, exporting weapons tools to Iraq without the approval of the Department of Commerce, smuggling goods, wire fraud, and money laundering. He faces life in prison and will be sentenced on Aug. 23. 

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