Moscow again slams US judiciary over Bout's conviction
"Once again we have to state that the US judicial machine has fulfilled an obvious political contract despite the patent flimsiness of the evidence, which is based solely on 'ill intent' ascribed to Bout.
This biased approach to our fellow citizen, who has committed no crime on U.S. territory, is in sharp contrast with the leniency of American courts for murderers and abusers of Russian children adopted by American citizens," Russia's Foreign Ministry said in a statement posted on its website, www.mid.ru.
"The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and our Embassy in the United States will continue to give Bout necessary consular and legal support. We will press for his earliest possible repatriation, making use of whatever political and legal mechanisms are available," it said.
Bout was convicted by a jury at a Manhattan court on November 2, 2011. He was accused of intending to smuggle arms to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), a group listed in the United States as a terrorist organization, to be used against US armed forces.
In April 2012 he was sentenced to 25 years in prison.
The 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals in New York upheld the sentence.
Moscow regrets the US court of appeals ruling upholding the sentence of Russian citizen Viktor Bout, sentenced to 25 years in prison, and confirms commitment to pursue his fastest return to his homeland. Viktor Bout was convicted of conspiracy to provide aid to terrorist organizations.
"Naturally, it is deeply regrettable that the US judges did not listen to common sense and rejected the lawyers' arguments, that the sentence itself was initially absolutely unjust and politicized," Russian human rights commissioner Konstantin Dolgov said.
Alexei Binetsky, PhD in Political Science and Viktor Bout’s lawyer, shares his opinion on the matter in an interview with the Voice of Russia.
Voice of Russia: Did you expect such an outcome? Please, explain to us what it means for Viktor Bout.
Binetsky: First of all, it didn’t come as a surprise to us at all because we’ve been suggesting our own line of defense for quite a while, after having gone over the whole situation with US colleagues and other lawyers. We wanted to substitute the lawyer and our line of defense during the hearings. Unfortunately, it didn’t happen for the reasons not depending on us. Bout’s current lawyer failed to find answers to a series of questions asked during the hearings. We criticized the chosen strategy and predicted a negative outcome in case they continued to stick to it.
We still have the right to appeal within 14 days and ask for a full panel of judges to hear the appeal. It’s about 20 judges. After having looked through all the documents which were presented to the jury from the very beginning, my American colleagues and I seriously doubt that the current defense team is capable of changing something in such a short period of time. But we still have chances. Besides, we’ve received a lot of new documents from our colleagues-experts both from the US and Europe. The problem is that effective professional defense costs a lot. Bout’s family doesn’t have this money. Thus, the only way they can get it – the government’s assistance. If the government contributes to the resolution of the problem, Bout’s family will get the money. We know very well that if a decision is made on a governmental level in our country, there are enough non-governmental and charity organizations which can allocate funds to protect a Russian citizen in such a situation. Especially given that arrests of Russian citizens are continuing. And the Russian Foreign Ministry warned its citizens a while ago to avoid trips outside Russia if they have doubts their business is fair or legal abroad.
Voice of Russia: You’ve mentioned earlier that Bout’s defense made a few mistakes. Could you comment on what they do wrong?
Binetsky: First of all, it’s unethical to criticize colleagues. We didn’t say they made mistakes – we said they could stick to another line of defense.
Voice of Russia: What do you mean?
Binetsky: The line of defense, which Bout and his lawyer Albert Dayan had chosen, didn’t bring positive results. They should have changed it at some point and hired more competent American lawyers. As you understand, we have highly-qualified lawyers as well as the US does. Bout’s lawyer didn’t make any mistakes from a legal point of view but he failed to find a right tactic and strategy. I can’t criticize his work. I can comment only on negative results he got. However, it could happen to any lawyer.
Viktor Bout’s defense will appeal a US Court of Appeals decision to uphold the Russian’s guilty verdict, demanding the appeal should be heard by a full panel of judges, Albert Dayan, Bout’s lawyer, has said.
A three judges panel of a New York Court of Appeals upheld the Russian businessman’s guilty verdict on Friday. Bout was sentenced to 25 years in jail for conspiracy of selling arms to Colombian militants and unintentional killing.
"My client and I are very disappointed with the Court of Appeal decision. We didn’t expect that. There is no "conspiracy to commit an unintentional killing" chapter in the US Code," Dayan said.
Moscow said on Friday that a US court ruling upholding the conviction of Russia's Viktor Bout showed that the case against the Russian was unjust and politically motivated.
"Naturally, this decision provokes deep disappointment," RIA quoted the Russian Foreign Ministry's human rights representative, Konstantin Dolgov, as saying.
A US federal appeals court on Friday upheld the conviction of Viktor Bout for conspiring to kill Americans.
The 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals in New York rejected Bout's contentions that he had been the victim of a vindictive prosecution and that there was no legitimate law enforcement reason to target him.
Bout has been serving a 25-year prison sentence for conspiring to sell arms to people he thought were Colombian rebels who intended to kill US soldiers.
His case caused strain in relations between Washington and Moscow, which has demanded the return of the onetime Soviet air force officer.
Voice of Russia, Reuters, Interfax