Alleged Russian drug trafficker offered mild penalty for testimony against Bout, wife says

A Russian cargo pilot Konstantin Yaroshenko, whom the United States accuse of drug trafficking, was offered to testify against alleged Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout in exchange for a milder penalty, Yaroshenko’s wife said on Tuesday.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency arrested Yaroshenko in Liberia last May. Four tons of cocaine were seized in the bust. Before Yaroshenko went on trial in early April, his lawyers said evidence against the Russian pilot was wrongfully obtained and pointed to numerous violations during his arrest.

“Konstantin was proposed to testify against Bout, and they said that “everything will be OK” then,” Viktoria Yaroshenko said, adding that her husband was also offered U.S. green cards for his wife and daughter.

Viktoria said that Yaroshenko and Bout, who are being kept in the same pre-trial detention facility, saw each other for the first time about two weeks ago during a meeting with their lawyers.

Bout, an ex-Soviet military officer dubbed the Merchant of Death by western press, was arrested in Thailand in March 2008 and extradited to the United States on November 16 last year. He was charged with conspiring to supply arms to a Colombian terrorist group, conspiracy to kill U.S. nationals, and several other charges, including money laundering.

Bout denies all charges filed against him. He could face from 25 years to life in prison if found guilty under U.S. laws.

NEW YORK, April 12 (RIA Novosti)

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