CATF Reports Nov. 9, 2016, 1:10pm

On October 31, 2016, in the midst of his 25 year prison sentence, Viktor Bout returned for the second time to the United States Federal Appeals Court requesting a new trial. A legendary arms trafficker, Bout was arrested for agreeing to sell millions of dollars’ worth sophisticated weapons to what he thought were officials of the armed Colombian narco-terrorist rebel group, FARC but were, instead, informants of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. Bout is arguing that there is new evidence that exposed a misrepresentation by the U.S. government of Andrew Smulian, an accused co-conspirator, whom Bout’s legal team are claiming was a government informant in his case.

The Panama Papers also presented some new information regarding Viktor Bout’s case and methods of terror financing. The papers showed that Bout used shell corporations to supply terrorist groups with weaponry anonymously, as well as to receive and store his profits from the sale of weapons to terrorists in Africa, the Balkans, and the Middle East. Authorities believe he armed the Taliban and members of the al-Qaeda terrorist network in the days leading up to the 9/11 attacks, as well as Luka Bojvic, the man linked to the assassination of the Serbian prime minister. Additionally, he has been accused by the UN of violating embargoes in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Rwanda, the Congo, and Angola. Bout, who has up until now fully denied any involvement or association in weapons trading, previously lost an appeal in 2013 and was rejected in his motion for a new trial, under the same pretexts of his current motion, in 2015.

U.S. Attorney, David Zhou believes the evidence for the new motion is neither new nor substantial for Bout to gain an acquittal, and reports have emerged that the appeals court expressed skepticism over the supposedly “new evidence” and claims of an unfair prosecution. However, Alexy Tarasov, Viktor Bout’s attorney, expressed his optimism for the request last week under the latest circumstances of the retirement of the U.S. judge who originally convicted him and denied the first appeal. Moreover, the new U.S. president elect’s ties to Russia and his past connections may leave room for a new turn of events in Bout’s case, which has caused diplomatic tension between the U.S. and Russia especially over the rejected request for Bout’s extradition filed by the latter.

From RT:

“It’s been a long time since we lost any trust in the unbiasedness and objectivity of US justice. Unfortunately we have a great number of examples in which arrests of Russian citizens had been made without any grounds and with violations of the law, including abduction on the territory of third countries,” [Russian Foreign Ministry Commissioner for Human Rights Konstantin] Dolgov told the newspaper.

“The court processes in these cases were politicized from the beginning to the end. [Konstantin] Yaroshenko’s and [Viktor] Bout’s cases are vivid examples of such approach.”[…]

Russia has repeatedly expressed concern about methods illegal used by US authorities to prosecute Russian citizens, in particular over the trials of transport company owner Viktor Bout and pilot Konstantin Yaroshenko, who were sentenced to 25 and 20 years in prison respectively.

Both Russians were convicted as a result of sting operations and the main argument for the prosecution was the testimony of undercover agents, not material evidence. Both men pleaded not guilty in court and continue to protest their innocence to this day.

The Russian Foreign Ministry even issued official warnings to all citizens who travel abroad, saying they might be detained and extradited to the US for a biased trial on inflated charges.”

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