Sunday, February 26, 2012


The Federal Judge who will be sentencing convicted arms trafficker Viktor Bout on 12 March has ordered* that he be released from solitary confinement, and transferred to general population, in New York's Metropolitan Correctional Centre (MCC) "forthwith." Bout, who has been held in the jail's SHU, or Special Housing Unit, for the past fifteen months, since his arrival from the Orient, is currently housed in a small room 23 hours a day, with only minimal contact with the outside world, contended that he was being held under unduly harsh conditions, without any apparent reason. He has been called, by the global media, the "Lord of War," and the "Merchant of Death," due to his reputedly long arms trafficking career in Africa and Asia.

Bout was convicted by a jury on 2 November, 2011 of;

(1) Conspiracy to kill US nationals.
(2) Conspiracy to kill officers and employees of the United States.
(3) Conspiracy to acquire, transfer  and use, anti-aircrart missiles.
(4) Conspiracy to provide Material Support to a designated terrorist organisation (the FARC).

The Bureau of Prisons was holding Bout in the SHU for the following reasons:

(A) Bout had access to "vast resources," which he could all upon to manage his escape, or to harm third parties.
(B) The nature of Bout's crimes, which involve a designated terrorist organisation.
(C) Bout possesses leadership ability, which he could use to control other inmates.
(D) Bout had previously had a relationship with former Liberian President Charles Taylor.

The Court, in an 18-page ruling, compared Bout to criminals who posed a greater threat, but who were released from such restrictive confinement conditions,  dismissed the BOP concerns, and ordered him to be transferred to general population, effective immediately.

Remember, Bout is a former Russian Air Force officer. On a personal note, some of my readers may recall that I once spent some time as a "guest" in the Special Housing Unit at the Federal Prison in Tallahassee, under the exact conditions, and it can be stressful. You watch the sun come up, and go down, each day, and the routine is only broken by the arrival of a meal tray, pushed through a slot in the door. You shower & shave only three times a week, and you are restrained any time you leave your cell. Recreation, which is also solitary, is infrequent.

 I found the daily arrival of a mental health professional, checking on my composure, a sign that others similarly situated, might not have had military experience, and prior incarceration at other facilities, to help them cope with the extreme boredom and close quarter confinement. Some of the SHU guests had problems, which they verbalised, especially at night. Even I found it hard to endure at times, and I eventually grew a beard, rather than deal with the constant stubble. I was happy to get out of there, even though I only going to another jail.
*Opinion and Order entered 24 March, 2012. Case No.: 08-000365-SAS (SDNY).

1 comment:

  1. Kenneth, since you spent time in the SHU you understand more than most. Don't forget that before Viktor was extradited to the U.S. he was in Thai prisons for over 2.5 years. In fact on March 6, Bout will have been incarcerated for a cumulative of fours years in foreign prisons.

    The Honorable Shira A.Scheindlin went so far as to say that Viktor Bout's prison conditions relative to his charges in her honors court room, were UNCONSTITUTIONAL! See quotes below:

    Judge Shira Scheindlin quoted the US Supreme Court in her ruling, stating that Bout’s rights under the constitution were being violated.

    “After fifteen months in solitary confinement with extremely minimal human contact and mobility, Viktor Bout requests that he be transferred to general population,” Scheindlin wrote.

    “Because I ‘cannot simply defer to the Warden and abandon my duty to uphold the constitution,’ I must grant Bout’s request.”

    Best regards,
    George Mapp


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