U.S. court begins jury selection for Bout trial

Candidates for a jury panel in the upcoming trial of suspected Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout may have to answer as many as 112 questions posed by prosecution and defense, a RIA Novosti correspondent reports.

Bout, 44, is being held in a New York prison while he awaits trial in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York in October on charges including conspiring to supply arms to terrorist groups and conspiring to kill U.S. nationals.

The Russian businessman denies any wrongdoing.

Bout’s defense has submitted to court a list of 66 questions for potential jurors focusing on their knowledge of the circumstances surrounding the case, their attitude toward Russia and arms trade, and their personal experience with violence in order to avoid unduly prejudice in reaching the verdict.

Prosecutors, who maintain that the Russian, dubbed the Merchant of Death by a British politician, was negotiating the sale of heavy weaponry to FARC, a Colombian militant group, will pose 44 questions of a more general nature.

They seem to be mostly concerned with the jurors’ literacy, their command of the English language and the pledge not to discuss the trial with anybody else.

The selection of 12 jurors and two substitutes for the trial, which starts on October 11, will most likely take several days.

The next round of preliminary hearings in Bout’s case will be held on Wednesday.

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