Deputies of the Russian parliament are indignant at the US court ruling which sentenced pilot Konstantin Yaroshenko to 20 years in prison in a drug trafficking case. The Russian pilot pleaded not guilty. “From a political point of view, the Russian Foreign Ministry should make a legal assessment of what has happened,” Konstantin Kosachev, head of the Duma Foreign Affairs Committee, told Itar-Tass on Thursday. He has no doubts this assessment will be “extremely tough.” Russian deputies are well-informed of “legal violations” that occurred during the trial, Kosachev stressed.
Lawyers for Russian pilot Yaroshenko to appeal court’s decision
Lawyers of Russian pilot Konstantin Yaroshenko will appeal US court’s decision, Echo of Moscow radio station reports. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison on Thursday for conspiring to smuggle drugs to the US. Yaroshenko repeatedly pleaded not guilty in this case. His family was present in the court room to support him.
Russian pilot gets jail sentence in U.S. for drug trafficking
Russian pilot Konstantin Yaroshenko, found guilty of conspiring to smuggle cocaine to the U.S. earlier this year, was sentenced to 20 years in prison on Thursday.
Yaroshenko and Nigerian Chigbo Peter Umeh were detained in Liberia in May 2010 and extradited to the United States on charges of smuggling a large batch of cocaine, part of which was destined to the U.S. Umeh was sentenced to 30 years in jail in late July.
The New York Federal Court in April convicted Yaroshenko of conspiring to smuggle drugs into America. Sentencing in his case has been postponed until September 7.
Yaroshenko's lawyer requested the court to take into account the defendant’s reputation and the lack of criminal record and impose the minimal sentence of 10 years in prison.
In his 30-minute last plea, Yaroshenko dismissed charges against him as “lies and slander” and asked the judge to “show mercy” for his family.
The sentencing was attended by the pilot’s mother, wife and daughter.
Yaroshenko's lawyer said this summer the 43-year-old pilot could be transferred to Russia to serve out his sentence.
September 08, 2011 10:56
Federal Drug Control Service has no evidence of illegal activity of pilot Yaroshenko
MOSCOW. Sept 8 (Interfax) - Russian security services have no information about possible illegal activity in Russia of pilot Konstantin Yaroshenko sentenced in the United States to 20 years in jail for an attempt of cocaine contraband.
"We held an inquiry into Yaroshenko's activity and did not find any compromising materials," a representative of the Federal Drug Control Service told Interfax on Thursday.
He also said that the United States did not present any materials confirming the involvement of Yaroshenko in cocaine contraband to Russia.
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NEW YORK, September 8 (Itar-Tass) —— The last pre-trial hearings in the case of Russian citizen Viktor Bout being on trial in the United States for alleged arms trafficking were held at a New York federal district court on Wednesday, September 7.
Judge Shira Scheindlin conferred with representatives of the defence and prosecution to discuss the questions to be put to the jury candidates.
Bout’s lawyers Albert Dayan and Kenneth Kaplan insisted on finding out whether the jury candidates are not prejudiced against Russia and its citizens as well as Colombia because a rebel group called Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia is involved in the case.
According to the American judicial practice, 12 main members and two to six backups are selected for the jury.
Dayan noted that the jury members would most likely be under the influence of information regarding the case that has drawn so much public attention. Scheindlin said she would make the jury members pledge not to look for information on Bout in mass media, but cannot forbid them to use the Internet completely.
Dayan stressed that his defendant had never been engaged in arms trade but had only provided air transportation services. At the same time, he admitted that some of the cargoes were arms.
The prosecutors proposed to hold the trial within 10 days and two more days will be necessary for selecting the jury.
The trial is scheduled to begin on October 11. But Scheindlin did not rule out that she might hold one more hearing a week before the trial, on October 5, if the sides still have unresolved questions.
On August 2, Scheindlin killed Bout’s last hope for a quick case closure by rejecting his lawyers’ petitions in which they questioned the legality of Bout’s extradition to the U.S. in November 2010.
They also stated that the U.S. authorities had fabricated the charges against Bout for political reasons.
On the first matter, Scheindlin announced in a 20-page ruling that courts in the U.S. were not empowered to revisit decisions on extradition made in other countries.
When rejecting the second petition, she said there was not enough evidence that the charges were politically motivated.
Bout was arrested in Bangkok in March 2008 at a U.S. request and extradited to the U.S. in November 2010. He has been charged with masterminding the sale of a large shipment of arms.
Four charges have been brought against him: criminal conspiracy to kill US nationals, conspiracy to kill officials in public service, criminal conspiracy to purchase and sell antiaircraft missiles and criminal conspiracy to supply weapons to terrorist groups. The Russian citizen has pleaded not guilty on all the points. If convicted, 44-year-old Bout will face from 25 years in prison to life imprisonment.
The Russian Foreign Ministry took steps to prevent his extradition to the U.S.; Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov suggested that Bout was innocent. On November 18, 2010, shortly after Bout’s extradition to the U.S., Russian President Dmitry Medvedev’s aide Sergei Prikhodko claimed that Russia had “nothing to hide” in Bout’s criminal case stating, “It is in our interests that the investigation... be brought to completion, and [Bout] answer all the questions the American justice system has.”
Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said earlier that a situation where Russian citizens fall victim to U.S. justice on the basis of broad interpretation of law is unacceptable.
“We keep on stressing the unacceptability of the situation where a number of Russian citizens fall victim to the application of American legislation and American legislative norms on an exterritorial basis, on the basis of broad interpretation of American laws and the possibility of its extrapolation, including outside the United States,” the diplomat said.
MOSCOW, September 8 (Itar-Tass) —— The Kremlin denied reports claiming that Moscow has accused Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko of vulgarising the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) reform.
Presidential aide Sergei Prikhodko dismissed as untrue media reports that published statements reportedly made by the Kremlin that Lukashenko has used the idea of CSTO aid to member states for his own purposes and vulgarised it.
“That the Kremlin is displeased is disinformation. What Alexander Grigoryevich [Lukashenko] said after an informal CSTO summit on broader cooperation within the Organisation was done by agreement with the Russian side,” he said.
“His ideas concerning broader cooperation within the CSTO are supported by the Russian president,” Prikhodko added.
“Assertions criticising Lukashenko for his assessment of CSTO activities are not true,” he stressed.
The aide confirmed that Moscow and Minsk are negotiating for holding a meeting of the Supreme State Council of Russia and Belarus.
“The president of Russia is satisfied with the nature and tone of the discussion on the most pressing issues of bilateral cooperation that took place during their meeting in Sochi,” Prikhodko said. “The Belarusian side and we are now choosing the date for a meeting of the Supreme State Council. And I hope that we will soon coordinate it with all members [of the Council], including prime ministers and speakers.”
“We hope that the meeting will take place this autumn,” he added.