A federal jury convicted a Pennsylvania man on May 19 for numerous crimes, including the torture of an Estonian citizen in 2015 in the Kurdistan region of Iraq, in connection with the operation of an illegal weapons manufacturing plant in Kurdistan, officials announced Monday
According to authorities, Ross Roggio is scheduled to be sentenced on Aug. 23 and faces up to life in prison.
According to court documents and evidence presented at trial, Roggio, 54, of Stroudsburg, arranged for Kurdish soldiers to abduct and detain the victim at a Kurdish military compound where Roggio suffocated the victim with a belt, threatened to cut off one of his fingers, and directed Kurdish soldiers to repeatedly beat, tase, choke, and otherwise physically and mentally abuse the victim over a 39-day period.
Officials stated that the victim was employed at a weapons factory that Roggio was developing in the Kurdistan region of Iraq intended to manufacture M4 automatic rifles and Glock 9mm pistols.
In connection with the weapons factory project, which included Roggio providing training to foreign persons in the operation, assembly, and manufacturing of the M4 automatic rifle, Roggio also illegally exported firearm parts that were controlled for export by the Departments of State and Commerce.
“Today’s guilty verdict demonstrates that Roggio’s brutal acts of directing and participating in the torture of an employee over the course of 39 days by Kurdish soldiers could not avoid justice,” said U.S. Attorney Gerard M. Karam for the Middle District of Pennsylvania.
“Today’s milestone conviction is the result of the extraordinary courage of the victim, who came forward after the defendant inflicted unspeakable pain on him for more than a month,” said Assistant Director Luis Quesada of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division. “Torture is among the most heinous crimes the FBI investigates, and together with our partners at the Human Rights Violators and War Crimes Center, we will relentlessly pursue justice.”
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.
Roggio is the second defendant convicted of torture since the federal torture statute was enacted in 1994.
The FBI and HSI investigated the torture and were joined in investigating the export control violations related to the firearms manufacturing equipment by the Department of Commerce’s BIS Office of Export Enforcement.