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US court turns down jailed Russian pilot’s request to cut prison term to 15 years — lawyer

Konstantin Yaroshenko filed the request on his own initiative

NEW YORK, April 25. /TASS/. A US court has turned down a request filed by Russian pilot Konstantin Yaroshenko to cut his prison sentence by five years, to 15 years, his attorney Alexey Tarasov said on Wednesday.

"He filed a request in the form of a letter to the judge, who sentenced him to 20 years a while ago. He [Yaroshenko] requested to trim this term to 15 years due to certain circumstances," Tarasov said. "The judge deemed the request irrelevant and turned it down."

The lawyer said the pilot filed the request on his own initiative.

"It was Konstantin’s personal initiative. <...> I think that right now we should concentrate on the request [for repatriation], which had been filed <...> and to hope that he will eventually be extradited on the basis of the European Convention on extradition," Tarasov said.

Yaroshenko’s case

On September 7, 2011, a US court sentenced Yaroshenko to 20 years in jail. He pled not guilty and described the charges as a frame-up and the arrest as a provocation. He had been brought to the United States from Liberia, where he was arrested in May 2010. Agents of the US Drug Enforcement Administration staged a sting operation to allegedly expose Yaroshenko’s intention to transport a large batch of cocaine. The Russian authorities and the pilot’s family in Rostov-on-Don have repeatedly asked the US to hand Yaroshenko over to Russia.

On April 22, the Russian Justice Ministry sent to the Russian Foreign Ministry a request for Konstantin Yaroshenko’s handover addressed to the US Department of Justice, to be forwarded to the US through diplomatic channels. The Russian pilot is to be handed over in accordance with the 1983 European Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons. Russia and the US are the parties to the convention. According to the Russian Justice Ministry, the Convention sets no deadlines for considering such requests.