NEW YORK, May 24 - RAPSI. A U.S. court has sentenced a South African pilot who testified against his former associate and jailed Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout to five years in jail.

Andrew Smulian, 71, who also holds British citizenship, was arrested in 2008 in Thailand along with Bout in a sting operation in which U.S. agents posed as Colombian militants looking to buy weapons.

Bout was sentenced to 25 years in prison by the New York Federal Court after a jury found him guilty of planning to sell arms to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia. The 45-year-old former military officer has denied the charges against him.

Announcing Smulian’s verdict on Wednesday, Manhattan federal court Judge Shira Scheindlin, who also presided over Bout’s trial, said he could be freed in a few months since he had already spent more than four years in detention.

Upon his arrest, Smulian agreed to cooperate with U.S. investigators and testified against Bout in his trial last fall.

Smulian has been allowed to serve his sentence at a pretrial detention centre in Manhattan where he has been jailed for the past 50 months.

Earlier this month, the U.S. penitentiary authority said Bout would be sent from his Brooklyn jail to a super maximum security prison in Colorado, where convicted terrorists and other dangerous criminals are serving their sentences, often in solitary confinement.

Bout's lawyer, Albert Dayan, has already appealed to the court, asking to revoke its decision.