Tuesday, July 3, 2012


Attorneys for the imprisoned arms trafficker, Viktor Bout, have indicated that, should their Federal appeals fail, they intend to apply to the Office of the Pardon Attorney, for a Presidential Pardon. This is not as far-fetched as it seems, for in 2000, Russian President Putin pardoned an American serving a long term for espionage, Edmond Pope, but most observers feel that the chances that it will be granted are negligible.

Bout's lawyers indicated that they will first exhaust all their post-trial options:
(1) The pending appeal to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals.
(2) Should that fail, a Petition for a Writ of Certiorari to the United States Supreme Court.

Bout's family reports that he is being held in solitary confinement at USP Marion, with only two ten-minute telephone call per week, and four hours of exercise out of his cell. That means that he is in the (misnamed) Special Housing Unit, or SHU. His attorneys plan to visit him within the next two weeks.

There has also been talk of a prisoner exchange. Included in the swap may also be Russian pilot Konstantin Yaroshenko, who is serving a 15-year sentence on narcotics charges, in the Federal Correctional Institution at Fort Dix, New Jersey.

Konstantin Yaroshenko

Some legal observers have rendered an opinion that there was no US jurisdiction in the Yaroshenko case. A pilot reportedly involved in the transport of narcotics from Venezuela to Liberia, where he was arrested, it has been argued that there was an insufficient nexus, or connection, with the United States, so as to confer jurisdiction. The District Judge found otherwise.

Both the Bout and Yaroshenko cases have serious political overtones in Russia, where public opinion favours their repatriation. Will the US Attorney General act if Russia makes application to transfer these individuals to Russian prisons ? Rumours abound that a deal between the US and Russia has already been struck.

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