Voices from Russia

Saturday, 30 June 2012

Could Viktor Bout Be Coming Home Soon?


Lawyers for Russian businessman Viktor Bout, who received a 25-year prison sentence in the USA, are set to appeal his verdict. The RF Ministry of Justice plans to submit an extradition request in a bid to return Bout home. However, Bout wants to come back home acquitted of all charges and plans to appeal his sentence. If he fails, his defence lawyers plan to file a mercy plea, whilst extradition would be their last option.

Bout’s attorney Viktor Burobin said that the lawyers would be working in three main directions, saying, “Firstly, we’ll appeal his verdict twice, in a higher court and then in the US Supreme Court. We believe that Viktor’s innocent. We’ll file his appeals in accordance with US laws. We’ve also contacted the US Justice Department’s Office of the Pardon Attorney and we hope that the US President will pardon Bout on the principle of reciprocity. In 2000, US citizen Edmond Pope was sentenced to 20 years in prison for espionage in Russia. The trial took place on 6 December, but on 14 December, President Vladimir Putin pardoned Pope and allowed him to go back to the US. We want to use this precedent. The final option, which we’ve discussed with the Russian Foreign and Justice Ministries is extradition, which we believe would be the last option. We want to prove Bout’s innocence”.

Earlier, Viktor’s wife Alla said that the US Justice Department stated that Washington was prepared to consider an extradition application if Russia submits one in accordance with the 1983 Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons. She said, “The Ministry of Justice asked me to prepare a number of documents to begin the extradition process. I understand that it’ll take a long time, and, now, we’re awaiting a response from the US Justice Department”. Bout is now in a medium-security federal prison in Marion IL. According to his wife, “Russian diplomats will soon visit him, but the USA is doing everything it can to hamper the visit. It’s difficult to get to the place, and there’s nowhere to stay. Viktor’s detention conditions leave much to be desired. He’s being held in solitary confinement and is only entitled to make two ten-minute phone calls a week to his family or a lawyer. He also has the right to receive 100 pages of printed materials a month. Maybe, later, Viktor will be allowed to use the prison library”.

On 5 April, Viktor Bout, who had a cargo shipping business, was sentenced to 25 years in prison after being convicted of conspiracy for plotting to sell weapons to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia. Three US agents posing as FARC militants set him up, claiming that they wanted to buy weapons from him had.

29 June 2012

Lada Korotun

Voice of Russia World Service



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