MOSCOW, May 16 (RAPSI), Ingrid Burke - Viktor Bout filed a brief Wednesday with the US Appeals Court for the Second Circuit seeking a remand for a hearing on the violation of his due process rights, and asserting that “conspiracy to commit reckless murder” is not, in fact, a crime.
The brief argues that Bout’s due process rights were violated as a result of his “outrageous, vindictive pursuit from the inception of the ‘investigation’ through the extradition process.”
The brief asserts: “In this case, Mr. Viktor Anatolyevich Bout, is an innocent man, a foreigner, convicted by a United States jury overwhelmed by emotional, political and national feelings for our service men and women stationed overseas. The purported material ‘facts’ outlined for you in prosecution’s appellate brief are not exact.”
Claiming that the criminal proceedings arose not for traditional law enforcement purposes, but rather to suit the US Government’s political agenda, the brief bills the sting operation that Bout was entangled in as a “bait and switch,” operation against a reluctant man.
An earlier motion Bout had submitted allegedly substantiating these claims was dismissed without a hearing.
Citing the seriousness of his claims, the factual support purportedly available, the failure of prosecutors to deny the claims made, and the assertion that the government maintains exclusive control of the evidence needed to sort through these claims, Bout calls for a remand for a hearing on the matter.
The brief further challenges the inclusion in the jury instructions issued during Bout’s trial in connection with the offense of “conspiracy to commit reckless murder,” which – according to the brief – is not actually an existing offense.
Specifically, the brief states: “the jury was instructed clearly and unequivocally, that his conspiratorial intent – his intent to commit the object crime of the conspiracy, murder of U.S. Nationals- could be established by the government if ‘it proved reckless and wanton conduct on the part of the defendant ….’ In other words, the jury was instructed that Viktor Bout could be convicted of a non-existent crime –conspiracy with intent to commit reckless murder.”
The brief explores the case law relied upon both by the court and prosecutors in seeking to undermine the validity of these particular jury instructions.
Bout was convicted in November 2011 of conspiracy to murder US nationals, including military officers and employees, and to sell millions of dollars’ worth of weapons, including hundreds of portable surface-to-air missiles and over 20,000 AK-47s, to the Colombian rebel group FARC. He was sentenced in turn to 25 years in a medium-security prison.
Bout's story gained popular notoriety through the success of the Hollywood blockbuster Lord of War, a story that is said to be loosely based on Bout's life - although a highly sensationalized version of his life story.