Southern District Court in Manhattan has received an opinion letter from Preet Bharara, a U.S. federal prosecutor, concerning a claim filed by the Russian businessman’s lawyers, in which the prosecutor says that “claims should not be satisfied to any degree as they are unfounded.” As it is explained in the document, “the claims are based on the fact that, when ruling, the Court of Thailand was driven not by the facts of the case, but merely was incompetent enough to succumb to political pressure from U.S. authorities, resulting in biased and partial appeal hearings.”
Thus, according to the lawyers of Bout, in an attempt to extradite Bout from Thailand to the U.S., the U.S. government applied political pressure to the government in Bangkok. And after the Thai lower court refused to extradite him, Washington put more pressure on the Court of Appeal and achieved the cancelation of the previous court ruling. Prosecutor calls this belief “groundless speculation” and notes that the defense has failed to prove that “the Thai court did something not as provided by the law and that its decision was influenced.”
On the contrary, according to Bharara, “proceedings against the Russian businessman in Thailand were conducted with strict compliance to the law, and litigations took quite a long time.”
The prosecutor also considers it necessary to dismiss another claim in which the defense argues that the court violated certain provisions of U.S. law relating to the type of the case. He cites several examples, showing that the position of counsels had no grounds to it.
The prosecutor's office stressed that in March 2008 Bout got on a plane bound for Thailand, with a determination to conclude a deal on arms sales to rebels of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), realizing that the FARC intended to “harm the United States.” “Bout realized that the weapons he was about to sell would be used against the U.S. armed forces in Colombia and, in particular, to kill American pilots”, said the prosecutor. “Moreover, Victor Bout emphasized that he considers the United States his personal enemy, and fighting against the United States he considers his fight.”
These facts in particular, as expected, will be the main proof of guilt of the Russian businessman, accused by U.S. authorities on four counts: criminal conspiracy to murder U.S. nationals, criminal conspiracy to murder civil servants, criminal conspiracy to purchase and sale of anti-aircraft missiles, and criminal conspiracy to supply weapons to terrorist groups.
According to The Russian Mafia web-site (rumafia.com), Victor Bout’s trial is scheduled for October 11. Prior to that, another pre-trial meeting is supposed to be held on July 21. During the pre-trial the parties to the process will voice their lattermost reasoning.