NEW-YORK, February 13 - RAPSI. Judge Shira Scheindlin expressed her doubts at the Friday hearing if Russian Viktor Bout has to be in solitary confinement as a violent criminal, RIA Novosti reported from the courtroom.
"He's a businessman, he's an arms dealer. I've never heard any evidence he was involved in violence," Scheindlin said at a special hearing over a change in the Bout's confinement in jail and added that he can hardly be a threat to his guards.
The hearing was conducted in response to Bout's motion to be allowed into the general population at the Metropolitan Correctional Center. A warden at MCC Susan Hastings claimed that solitary confinement is necessary for Bout as it keeps him from harming the guards.
The judge argued in return that Bout has neither been deemed an Al-Kaida member or terrorist and was charged with other crimes.
The judge requested from the prosecution and the defense to submit their arguments by February 14 regarding a change in Bout's prison conditions.
Bout was arrested in Thailand in 2008 and then extradited to the United States. The United States has charged Bout with conspiring to kill Americans and U.S. officials, illegal surface-to-air missile trafficking and supporting terrorism by cooperating with the Colombian FARC guerrilla organization.
Judge Scheindlin rejected on February 8 the motion to reverse the verdict. Bout's defense attorney Albert Dayan based the motion on the absence of direct evidence supporting the charges that his client conspired to kill Americans and U.S. officials.
The court will pass the sentence in the case on March 12.
Bout, who has pleaded not guilty, faces from 25 years to life in prison.