MOSCOW, May 14 (Itar-Tass) —— Plans to transfer Russian businessman Viktor Bout, found guilty in November 2010 of arms smuggling conspiracy and sentenced by a New York court to 25 years in prison, are biased as is the verdict cooked up in his case, the Foreign Ministry’s Commissioner for Human Rights, Democracy and Rule of Law Konstantin Dolgov said.
“We believe that the U.S. Federal Bureau of Prisons' plans to move Bout to a special prison are just as biased and unsubstantiated as the fabricated verdict against our citizen itself. It is further evidence of serious problems existing in the U.S. court system – the selectiveness and partiality of the U.S. justice system,” Dolgov said on Monday, May 14.
“There is no doubt that [Bout’s transfer to the super-maximum prison]…where conditions are even worse than at those where he was held after his illegal extradition to the U.S. from Thailand, will have an adverse effect on his health condition and substantially limit the possibility to provide him with consular and legal assistance as provided by international law,” Dolgov said.
“The penitentiary centre in Florence, Colorado, or, to put in simple terms, a special prison, is used mainly for isolating mafia leaders and terrorists and has a very strict regime – solitary cells, no connection with the outside world and no communication between the inmates. U.S. human rights organisations, including the American Civil Liberties Union, describe the conditions in this centre as humiliating and contravening Amendment VII to the U.S. Constitution that forbids inhuman treatment of prison inmates,” Dolgov said.
“The Russian Embassy in Washington and the Russian Consulate General in New York are taking effort to improve Viktor Bout’s conditions as much as possible, ensure that his rights are not infringed upon and our diplomats in the U.S. have constant consular access to him. We will use all available political, diplomatic and legal means to press for Viktor Bout’s return to Russia,” Dolgov said.
“They are trying to put me in the most notorious underground jail in the mountains hidden underground so I could never see daylight again as a punishment. For them this is a chance to create more obstacles to a proper appeal,” Bout said of his possible transfer to a prison in Colorado.
“My case is purely political. Despite the American procedures the Russian public knows the truth. My case shows the real condition of the American justice system of a police state close to dictatorship,” Bout said.
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.