DANBURY /Connecticut/, August 24. /TASS/. The defense team of Russian pilot Konstantin Yaroshenko who is serving a 20-year sentence in the Federal Correctional Institution in Danbury, Connecticut, has urged two UN special rapporteurs to investigate his case, the Russian national’s Defense Attorney Alexei Tarasov told TASS on Friday.
"We have undertaken an initiative recently, which will be sure to gain momentum," he said. "We have sent requests signed by myself on behalf of Konstantin Yaroshenko, who fully agrees with this initiative, to the UN special rapporteurs." The attorney explained that he had in mind UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Nils Melzer and his colleague Seong-Phil Hong who deals with arbitrary detention. They have been asked to look into Yaroshenko’s case, which could result in the beginning of an investigation.
"These agencies have powers, and often after the investigation and after they reveal that detention was arbitrary, they put forward demands to the authorities of a particular country," the defense attorney said. "It is clear that these demands may not be binding for the US, the more so since it left the UN Human Rights Council some time ago," he added. "However, at the time when Yaroshenko was abducted, America, was, of course, a member of that body."
Tarasov stressed that "Konstantin Yaroshenko’s arrest in Liberia and his abduction with a mask on his head was, naturally, arbitrary detention." The attorney hoped that the UN special rapporteurs would initiate an investigation to that end. According to Tarasov, there is no substantive answer to these inquiries yet. "I think they will reply within the next few months," he noted.
"We have turned to two UN rapporteurs, and Konstantin Yaroshenko would like the issue of his case, the issue of his abduction and conviction to be raised by Russia in the UN Security Council," he added.
Yaroshenko was arrested in Liberia in May 2010, and was later clandestinely transferred to the United States. In September 2011, he was found guilty of conspiring to smuggle a major cocaine shipment into the US, and sentenced to 20 years behind bars. However, Yaroshenko pleaded not guilty, saying that his arrest was a setup and the case was fabricated.
Until recently, Yaroshenko had been serving out his sentence at the Fort Dix Federal Correctional Institution, but in mid-June he was first transferred to a transit prison in Brooklyn, New York, and then to the current Danbury prison, which holds more than 1,400 inmates.
Russian officials and the pilot’s family have repeatedly requested that Washington transfer him to Russia.