Pennsylvania man sentenced to 70 years in prison for torturing Estonian citizen in Iraq

STROUDSBURG, Pa. — A Pennsylvania man will spend the next 70 years behind bars for torturing an Estonian citizen in Iraq in 2015.

Ross Roggio, 55, from Stroudsburg, tortured an Estonian citizen in the Kurdistan region of Iraq. He also was sentenced for the illegal export of weapons parts and related services, according to Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

The victim was an employee at a weapons factory that Roggio was developing in the Kurdistan region of Iraq that was intended to manufacture automatic rifles and pistols, HSI said.

“The extensive cooperation, information sharing and dedication shown by the law enforcement agencies involved in this investigation has been extraordinary,” said HSI Philadelphia acting Special Agent in Charge. “Roggio’s sentence stands as proof that the United States will investigate and prosecute those that break our laws and violate human rights regardless of where they are committed.”

HSI said Roggio arranged for Kurdish soldiers to abduct and detain the victim at a Kurdish military compound, where he suffocated the victim with a belt, threatened to cut off one of his fingers and directed the soldiers to repeatedly beat, choke, tase and otherwise physically and mentally abuse the victim for 39 days.

“The sentencing...is a testament to not only the diligent work done by law enforcement, both here and overseas, but most importantly, the courage of the victim and witnesses in coming forward,” said FBI Philadelphia Special Agent in Charge Wayne A. Jacobs. “Torture is among the most egregious crimes the FBI investigates. The FBI along with our law enforcement partners will continue to purse justice for victims of these horrendous crimes.”

In connection with the weapons factory project, Roggio exported firearms parts and tools without the required approvals by the U.S. departments of State and Commerce. He also illegally trained foreign people in the operation, assembly and manufacturing of the M4 automatic carbine.

Roggio was the second defendant to be convicted of torture since the federal torture statute went into effect in 1994, HSI said.

Members of the public who have information about human rights violators in the United States are urged to contact U.S. law enforcement through the HSI tip line at 877-4-HSI-TIP (877-447-4847).

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