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Court turns down Bout’s USD 1 million lawsuit against TV channel

August 28, 2013, 21:11 UTC+3
According to the REN TV attorneys, the applicant had not provided any evidence proving that he had suffered from moral harm
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Photo EPA/ITAR-TASS Archive

Photo EPA/ITAR-TASS Archive

MOSCOW, August 28 (Itar-Tass) - Moscow’s Khamovniki District Court on Wednesday, August 28, turned down a one million U.S. dollar slander suit against the REN TV channel filed by Viktor Bout, who has been convicted in the United States to a long prison term, through his wife.

Viktor Bout’s lawyer Alexei Binetsky said he would appeal the ruling. The lawsuit was filed after a film titled “The Mafia of the Soviet County” shown by REN TV. Bout disagreed with some of the statements made in the film and applied for compensation of one million U.S. dollars for moral harm. He also asked the court to order the TV channel to refute these statements.

The lawsuit was filed by Viktor Bout’s wife as he was serving time in an American prison and could not do it himself.

Binetsky said Bout and his wife did not like the fact that the narrator in the film called Bout “a Russian Mafia king” and “a well-known Russian Mafioso” and stated that he had played “a role in the 9/11 terrorist attack” in the United States.

“The fact that Bout was convicted in the United States does not make him the leader of a criminal community in Russia. We think that the release of the film aimed to portray him in a negative way, which played into the hands of the American authorities, including the U.S. Department of Justice,” Binetsky said in court.

He presented a certificate proving that Bout had no criminal convictions in Russia. Bout’s mother, who also attended the court hearing, said her son had no criminal connections.

REN TV representatives said that most of the phrases used in the film were assumptions and there was no need to refute them. “Phrases like “according to one of the leads...” or “as American mass media have reported...” or “how is Viktor Bout related to the 9/11 terrorist attack?” are assumptions. In the end, the film says that Bout fell victim to a provocation. So, the film brings about the feelings of sympathy for the convict,” they said.

According to the REN TV attorneys, the applicant had not provided any evidence proving that he had suffered from moral harm after the film and asked the court to reject his lawsuit. Judge Igor Kaganovich agreed with their arguments.

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

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, found guilty in November 2010 of arms smuggling conspiracy, was 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.

Bout is convinced that his case “is anti-Russian”. “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’s lawyers insist that their defendant had no plans to sell arms to terrorists, let alone kill Americans. The only purpose of his trip to Bangkok in March 2008, reputedly for a meeting with representatives of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (RAFC), whose role was played by undercover informants of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, was to make a deal to sell two transport planes which were in Bout’s possession at that time. He was arrested during the meeting.

Russia has repeatedly said that Bout’s transfer from Bangkok to the U.S. was unlawful and was carried out without court rulings. The Russian Foreign Ministry continues to insist on Bout’s extradition.

The Marion prison, where Bout is serving his term, is located in Illinois, 500 kilometres south of Chicago, and is designed to accommodate 1,000 inmates.

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