NEW YORK, November 10 (RIA Novosti) – The US Department of Justice has refused to extradite convicted Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout to Russia for him to serve his prison time at home, Bout’s attorney Albert Dayan said.
“We have just received a denial. The US Department of Justice cites the gravity of the crime and says it does not want to create an undesirable precedent,” Dayan told RIA Novosti.
A former Soviet military officer, Viktor Bout was convicted in November 2011 of conspiracy to kill US nationals, including military officers and employees, conspiring to supply man portable anti-aircraft missiles, and selling millions of dollars worth of weapons to the Colombian rebel group FARC.
The businessman, who denies the charges against him, was sentenced to 25 years in April 2012. Bout is serving his prison term in the United States Penitentiary, Marion (USP Marion) in Illinois. Russia has tried to have Bout extradited in line with the 1983 Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons, but has failed.
Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has reiterated the view that Bout’s prosecution was political in nature, and said Russia will do anything it legally can to get him sent home.
Dayan also said Moscow may file a repeated request for Bout’s extradition when he serves two years of his term or in certain other cases, for example after an appeal by Bout’s defense is considered.
Dayan told RIA Novosti in early October there is new evidence to support an appeal for the case to be reconsidered. The defense claimed that certain US officials exerted pressure, intimidation, and bribery regarding Thai officials who decided to extradite Bout to the United States.
Bout was arrested in Bangkok in 2008, but only extradited to the US in November 2010 after a protracted legal battle against the extradition finally failed when the Thai cabinet backed the US request to send him to America. Bout’s defense has repeatedly claimed that the extradition was illegal.