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Russia, US agree that Bout case should be solved by law -- FM

April 12, 2012, 5:28 UTC+3
The Russian Foreign Ministry said it would press for Bout's return to Russia
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WASHINGTON, April 12 (Itar-Tass) —— Russia and the United States are unanimous in their conclusion that the businessman Viktor Bout case should be solved in accordance with law, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.

“We discussed the issue of Viktor Bout, Yaroshenko and other Russian citizens who are in the United States and have been prosecuted,” Lavrov said on Wednesday, April 11.

“There is an understanding that this issue should be resolved by law. We are members to the relevant international conventions that ensure interaction in the field of mutual legal assistance,” the minister said.

Bout, found guilty in November 2010 of arms smuggling conspiracy, has been sentenced by a New York court to 25 years in prison.

Moscow believes that the evidence collected against Bout “is too thin to make far-reaching accusations”. The Foreign Ministry thinks that a situation where Russian citizens fall victim to U.S. justice on the basis of broad interpretation of law is unacceptable.

Bout was arrested in Bangkok in March 2008 at a U.S. request and extradited to the U.S. in November 2010. He has been charged with masterminding the sale of a large shipment of arms.

Four charges were brought against him: criminal conspiracy to kill US nationals, conspiracy to kill officials in public service, criminal conspiracy to purchase and sell antiaircraft missiles and criminal conspiracy to supply weapons to terrorist groups. The Russian citizen pleaded not guilty on all the points.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said it would press for Bout's return to Russia.

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