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US judge puts in doubt legality of evidence against Russian pilot Yaroshenko - lawyer

November 28, 2014, 1:18 UTC+3 NEW YORK
“The documents that the agents should sign under oath should be submitted to the court within two weeks,” Alexey Tarasov said
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NEW YORK, November 27. /TASS/. US federal judge of the Southern District of New York Jed Rakoff has put in doubt the legality of the way prosecutors had obtained evidence against Russian pilot Konstantin Yaroshenko, who is serving a 20-year prison term in the United States on charges of attempted drug smuggling.

“Rakoff demanded that prosecuting attorneys submit detailed reports that would state that US special services agents, who had conducted an operation against him [Yaroshenko], did not use illegal and provocative methods,” Yaroshenko’s American lawyer Alexey Tarasov told TASS.

“The documents that the agents should sign under oath should be submitted to the court within two weeks,” Tarasov said.

"I, Jed Rakoff and prosecutor Randall Jackson who supervises the case have had a telephone conversation, during which the judge confirmed doubts of the legality of methods of special agents' operation against Konstantin Yarkoshenko," he said. "The telephone conference took place on the initiative of the federal judge."

Yaroshenko’s defense managed to find “practically irrefutable evidence that there exist audio recordings of defendants in the case on an attempt to smuggle drugs, which were hidden from the court.” The recordings were hidden from the court and defense, but prosecutors used them as a basis for their charges. The recordings were apparently made in violation of many countries’ laws by US special services agents.

Nigerian drug lord Chigbo Peter Umeh, a defendant in the case, gave evidence to testify that American special services were involved in provocations against Yaroshenko. Umeh said agents employed in the US operation deliberately staged provocative situations during which they actively used recording equipment.

One of the agents had the name of Santiago. Umeh testified that voice recorders were mounted on his body. Santiago fabricated information discrediting Yaroshenko, making recordings in the drug mafia environment in Liberia and Colombia in which he mentioned the Russian pilot.
Rakoff actually admitted that new circumstances of principled importance were discovered in Yaroshenko’s case. The pilot’s defense insists on a new process.

“His innocence will be proven, and he will be released with repeal of the previously passed sentence,” the lawyer said. “The court has enough grounds for that.”

Yaroshenko was detained by the US authorities in Liberia in May 2010 and then secretly taken to the United States. In September 2011, a US court sentenced him to 20 years in prison for having been allegedly involved in a criminal ring organized for smuggling a large shipment of cocaine. Yaroshenko denied the accusations.

In February 2014, Tarasov said Yaroshenko’s health “seriously deteriorated as a result of torture and abuse during arrest”, and that his client had problems with his heart, blood pressure and temperature. The pilot’s requests for medical help were apparently ignored by the administration of the Fort Dix Prison in New Jersey, he said then.

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