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3 Nov, 2011 14:31

Bout case: ‘Story far from over’

Not giving up – convicted Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout’s family are determined to continue fighting for justice until they see him out of prison. Russian authorities promise to back them.

Bout’s wife Alla was not in attendance in the court when his verdict was announced. After three weeks of hearings, and four years of separation from husband she did not want to be seen in a vulnerable state.She was, however, awaiting the news right outside the courthouse.“I didn't want to be seen openly weeping in the courthouse, didn't want to be seen in such a condition by the jury, by the court marshals or DEA agents,” Mrs. Bout explained in an interview with Russia’s Channel One. “When I last visited him in prison, arriving from Moscow, I asked him not to give up whatever happens, whatever the outcome of the hearing is, because this story is far from over.”Though he has little faith in the US justice system, Bout's brother Sergey is determined to continue too. “We will appeal,” he promised in an interview with RT.Sergey Bout cited numerous violations made by the prosecution during the trial. The massive list of these violations included extraditing Viktor Bout without proper documents, and trying him while legally he was still in Thailand. Sergey Bout also accused the court of allowing the broadcast of movies portraying Bout as the “merchant of death” prior to the trial. Viktor Bout was also denied the right to use his frozen assets to pay his attorneys, though this is perfectly legal according to US law.“We were naïve to believe in the fabled American democracy and justice for all. In reality there is no justice, apart from ‘democracy for money’. Any high-profile case that they make us believe was resolved justly in reality was resolved in a whole different fashion, as we realize now,” Sergey Bout concluded.Bout was found guilty of attempting to sell heavy weapons to a Colombian terrorist group by a New York Federal jury on Wednesday. His sentence – 25 years to life – will be announced on February 8, 2012.Russian authorities blame political pressure for affecting Bout’s trial, calling the fairness of the verdict into question.The Russian Foreign Ministry is not giving up on Viktor Bout and vows to take “all measures needed to ensure the legal rights and interests of Viktor Bout as a Russian citizen,” according to spokesman Aleksandr Lukashevich.

Kent Goodman, an author who has written a number of books on Viktor Bout, says there were no conflicting opinions voiced by the media.

“All there was in the media was negative information about Viktor Bout.”

Also, Goodman doesn’t find the evidence in Bout’s case compelling.

“The problem is that too many Americans have heard so many bad things about him. The evidence against him obviously was supposedly selling arms to FARC. Of course, FARC is only considered a terrorist organization in America, and in many other countries of the world it’s considered a valid political party. But they don’t take it into account in the trial.”

‘Bout trial part of anti-Russian strategy’

Author and investigative journalist Daniel Estulin sees the whole case of Viktor Bout as another move to undermine Russia's interests.“Victor Bout is a pawn in the international, global game, where Russia – is the endgame. Russia is still the only nation that can stand up to NATO, the US aggression. He is just an example of what is done against Russia's interests around the world,” Estulin told RT, claiming that, “Other efforts are made around the world to destroy Russia's credibility or undermine their influence, such as the 70 bases constructed in Afghanistan, whose only objective is to attack southern flank Russia in case of war.”“The American government has called Viktor Bout an ex-KGB officer,” Estulin reminded. “Of course, he never was a KGB officer, but the idea behind a KGB officer getting his hands on such powerful weapons, the insinuation is that Russia would actually help him and supply him with weapons. This basically puts Russia in one category with Iran, North Korea, Cuba, Venezuela and others.”