Russian Arms Dealer Bout Faces ‘Supermax’ Prison

The U.S. penitentiary authority has ordered transferring convicted Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout from his Brooklyn jail to a super maximum security prison in Colorado, defense lawyer Andrei Garkusha told RIA Novosti on Friday.

Bout, a former Soviet air force officer who was dubbed the “Merchant of Death” in the United States, has been sentenced to 25 years in a U.S. jail for conspiring to kill U.S. citizens and sell arms to Colombian militants. He maintains his innocence.

His lawyer, Albert Dayan, filed on Thursday a formal request to Judge Shira A. Scheindlin, who presided over Bout’s trial and who set his sentence, asking her to revoke the decision to move the Russian to the Florence Federal Correctional Facility in Colorado. The lawyer said the conditions at the prison, where convicted terrorists are often held, were “even worse” than those in his previous cell at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in lower Manhattan.

The Colorado prison, known as a Supermax, is the most secure in the U.S., and holds Ramsi Yousef, convicted for bombing the World Trade Center in 1993. Most prisoners in the facility are in solitary confinement.

The judge has promised to consider Dayan’s request before Bout is transferred to Colorado, Garkusha said.

The Russian was arrested in Bangkok in March 2008 as a result of a sting operation in which U.S. informants posed as Colombian rebels. In November 2010, after two years of legal wrangling, he was handed over to the United States to face the courts.

He spent 14 months in a solitary confinement at the Metropolitan Correctional Center before Judge Scheindlin ruled his imprisonment conditions to be softened and brought in accordance with the threat he posed to society. He was then transferred to the Brooklyn jail in late February.

Bout’s family want him to be moved to a prison in Fort Dix, New Jersey, where another Russian, Konstantin Yaroshenko, has been serving his 20-year term for conspiring to smuggle cocaine into the United States.

Bout’s defense are also seeking his repatriation to Russia.


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