US labels “Merchant of Death” book hearsay in Bout's ex-partner's case
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MOSCOW, November 5 (RAPSI) - US prosecutors filed a memo Monday opposing various motions submitted by Viktor Bout’s alleged co-conspirator Richard Ammar Chichakli, including one seeking to introduce a controversial book on Viktor Bout called Merchant of Death: Money, Guns, Planes, and the Man Who Makes War Possible into evidence, according to court documents obtained by RAPSI.
According to the memo, Chichakli had moved to dismiss the indictment against him based on the theory that it had been the product of vindictive prosecution; moved to introduce a host of new evidence at trial, including Merchant of Death, by Douglas Farah and Stephen Braun; and moved to introduce into evidence documents contained in a specific hard disk drive.
Countering Chichakli’s efforts to introduce into evidence the book Merchant of Death¸as well as the co-author’s media statements and testimony before Congress (from 2005 and 2008), various UN resolutions, and other documents, prosecutors relied on the theory of inadmissible hearsay. Hearsay is defined in the memo as “evidence of a declarant’s out-of-court statement to prove the truth of what is asserted in the statement.” The memo goes on to assert that prosecutors are unaware of “any non-hearsay purpose for the defendant’s evidence.”
US prosecutors countered the vindictive prosecution claim by claiming that despite the defendant’s theory that he had been prosecuted due to his testimony in support of Bout, or his lawsuits against various US officials, “In reality, the defendant was charged in this case because of the overwhelming evidence found during the search of Viktor Bout’s laptop after Bout’s arrest in Thailand in 2008, which demonstrated that the defendant and Bout conspired to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA), and then attempted to cover-up this conspiracy by making false representations to [US] Government officials.”
With regard to the hard drive evidence, prosecutors assert that Chichakli failed to identify with specificity the materials sought to be admitted as evidence, and thus failed to meet his burden of proving the admissibility of the evidence.
Chichakli, who has both Syrian and US citizenship, was arrested in Australia on January 9 based on a request filed by US authorities. He was then extradited to the US to face charges connected with allegations that he conspired with Viktor Bout and others in order to violate the IEEPA, according to a statement released in May by the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
According to a superseding indictment filed in late October, Chichakli faces one count of conspiracy to violate the IEEPA, one count of conspiracy to launder money, one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and six counts of wire fraud.