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US ready to consider request for allowing Bout to serve prison term in Russia

May 17, 2012, 3:30 UTC+3

Bout has been sentenced to 25 years in prison

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WASHINGTON, May 17 (Itar-Tass) —— The United States is ready to consider Russia’s request for allowing its businessman Viktor Bout to service his prison term at home.

In an exclusive interview with Itar-Tass, Rossiiskaya Gazeta and Russia 24 television ahead of his working visit to Moscow and St. Petersburg, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said the U.S. has agreements with other countries that allow convicts to service their prison terms at home.

Russia and the United States have agreed that the Bout case should be solved in accordance with law.

“We discussed the issue of Viktor Bout, Yaroshenko and other Russian citizens who are in the United States and have been prosecuted,” , Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said earlier.

“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.

Bout is convinced that his case “is anti-Russian”. “Look at what happened in Thailand during the extradition procedure. The criminal court of Bangkok denied the extradition. They applied tremendous pressure on the government of Thailand and actually bought me out, not extradited. We submitted an appeal to the Thai court and it is still not finished. The pressure was so huge they had to pass me to the American side. My case is still on the shelves in Thailand,” he said.

“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.

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