Topic: Viktor Bout case
MOSCOW, June 29 (RIA Novosti)
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The legal defense team of Russian businessman Viktor Bout will seek a pardon from U.S. President Barack Obama if appeals fail, Bout’s lawyer Viktor Burobin said on Friday.
After Bout was sentenced to 25 years in the U.S. prison for conspiring to kill U.S. nationals and sell arms to militants, Burobin said it was possible that the U.S. president could pardon the Russian if approached to do so.
“We consider this possible… to apply to the U.S. Office of the Pardon Attorney. Maybe the U.S. president will pardon our citizen,” Burobin said, adding that there was a similar precedent in 2000 when Russian President Vladimir Putin pardoned a U.S. citizen, Edmond Pope, who had been sentenced to 20-year imprisonment in Russia on spy charges.
Pope, who was convicted on December 6, 2000, for spying for the United States, was released from prison eight days later after Putin signed his pardon.
Apart from applying to the U.S. Office of the Pardon Attorney, Bout’s defense will also appeal to both the U.S. Court of Appeals and to the Supreme Court, Burobin told a press conference on Friday, arguing Bout's innocence.
“Bout stands firmly on the position that he is not guilty and he will file appeals in compliance with all the available legal means within the U.S. legislation,” the lawyer said.
If this does not work, Bout’s defense team will then urge U.S. authorities to extradite Bout to Russia so that he could serve his jail term in a Russian prison.
“If this happens, it will be the most unfortunate outcome of our work,” Burobin said, adding that he has put his hopes mainly on an appeal or presidential pardon.
Bout List vs Magnitsky List
Bout may become involved in an unfolding new diplomatic row between Moscow and Washington amidst ongoing speculation that Russia may introduce a so-called Guantanamo list or Bout list if the U.S. Senate approves the controversial Magnitsky bill which will impose a travel ban and asset freeze on Russian officials allegedly linked to the jailing and death of lawyer Sergei Magnitsky in 2009.
Burobin said it was “inadmissible” from the legal point of view to respond this way, but added that politically a “Bout list was possible.”
The lawyer suggested that the first three names in the list would be the U.S. agents who arrested Bout in 2008 in Thailand after a sting operation in which they posed as Colombian militants looking to buy weapons.
Political Will Needed
Bout’s wife, Alla, who also addressed the press conference on Friday, said that she did not believe the U.S. Courts could overturn her husband’s guilty verdict since the case was “Washington’s political order.”
“I don’t quite share our defense’s point of view about the appeal because…there is too much politics and it was an order from Washington to bring Viktor to America,” Bout’s wife said, adding that there should be political will from both countries to solve this issue.
She also said that Russian diplomats in Washington would meet Bout before July 15, but their visits would hardly be frequent as the Marion Prison in Illinois where he is incarcerated, is located 300 kilometers (186 miles) from the nearest residential area.
“There is no transportation, so it means that you need to take a car, and there is nowhere to stay there,” Alla said.
According to his wife, Bout is currently in solitary confinement, and allowed only two 10-minute telephone calls per week and four hours of walking within the prison’s yard.
Bout, a former Soviet military officer, was found guilty of conspiracy to kill U.S. nationals, including military officers and employees, conspiring to use anti-aircraft missiles, and selling millions of dollars’ worth of weapons to the Colombian rebel group FARC. He was sentenced to a 25-year prison term in the Unites States.
The businessman has always denied the charges against him.
Attorney General Eric Holder said earlier that the United States may consider Bout’s extradition to Russia if they receive a request from the Russian authorities.
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