MOSCOW (Sputnik) — Russia hopes that the United States will repatriate Viktor Bout, sentenced to 25 years in prison, after the judge who presided over his trial, Judge Shira Scheindlin, admitted that the sentence was "excessive and inappropriate," Russian Foreign Ministry Human Rights Ombudsman Konstantin Dolgov said Wednesday.
“We hope that the lawyers will not overlook this situation, I mean the situation with Shira [Scheindlin]’s admissions, and will use it somehow in their work. There is always the possibility [of Bout’s repatriation], it existed [the possibility] earlier but the US authorities did not want to use it,” Dolgov told Rossiya 24 television.
The statement came after Shira Scheindlin, who stepped down on April 29, after almost 22 years on the federal bench, told The New York Times on Monday that the verdict in Bout's case was excessive and inappropriate, adding that she handed down the shortest sentence she could possibly give.
“We hope that the confessions of Judge Scheindlin will not go unnoticed by the US judges in this context and we will do everything we can to bring Viktor [Bout] home,” Dolgov said.
He also added that the Scheindlin’s comments are indicative of the defects inherent to the US judicial system – especially when it comes to cases involving Russian citizens.
Bout was arrested in Bangkok in 2008 in a joint operation between Thai and US authorities, who accused him of conspiring to kill US nationals by allegedly agreeing to supply Colombian militants with weapons. Undercover agents posing as members of Colombia’s FARC rebel group were used as part of the operation.
In October 2015, the Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said that Bout was “unjustifiably convicted” and that the case was “another politicized step by the US judicial system, which clearly follows orders from 'above’.” According to Zakharova, Russia will continue its efforts to facilitate Bout’s return.