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Thursday, April 30, 2009

Ria Novosti Reveals Viktor Bout & Russia's next Legal Moves

Ria Novosti, a public relations mouth piece for Russian Government Propaganda and its leaders, recently published the following article in it's English Language Online journal.

The helpful article reveals the next tactics Bout's lawyers may use:
  • They have managed to get testimony by US businessman and former Bout Associate Richard Chichakli admitted to the record. Chichakli, now living under Russian protection in Moscow tells a horror story of how he has been personally persecuted by the US government and testifies to what a wonderful human being Viktor Bout has always been. (Chichakli was living in Richardson, TX in 2007 He was Bouts's accountant and ran an airfield used by the Planes transporting arms to Africa).
  • They Intend to demonstrate that the FARC is not (technically) a terrorist group to the country of Thailand, and there was technically no breaking of Thai law
  • This Russian mouth piece article threatens retaliation against Thaind should they turn Bout over the the US.
  • Watch for Bout-friendly articles to appear in Western media (note the authors for future reference)

-Shimron Issachar

MOSCOW, April 30 (RIA Novosti) - Lawyers for an alleged Russian arms dealer arrested in Thailand have asked a fugitive U.S. businessman to testify for their client, a Russian paper said on Wednesday.

Former Russian army officer Viktor Bout, 42, was arrested in Bangkok in March last year during a sting operation led by U.S. agents. The United States accuses Bout of conspiring with others to sell millions of dollars' worth of weapons to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), among other illegal arms dealings.

Bout, who has spent over a year in a Thai prison, is facing extradition and trial in the U.S. after Thai authorities earlier announced that they would not press charges against the man dubbed "The Merchant of Death' by world media.
The Russian businessman has consistently denied the accusations and recently said his case was fabricated by the U.S. government.

Russian business daily Kommersant said that during Wednesday's hearings, the presiding judge adjourned the proceedings until May 19 so that a Thai Foreign Ministry official with legal expertise could answer questions regarding the existing extradition treaty between Thailand and the U.S. and whether the FARC rebel group is considered a terrorist organization by Thailand.

The judge also attached to the case on Wednesday testimony by Bout's friend and former business adviser, U.S. businessman Richard Chichakli, who is currently residing in Moscow.

Chichakli, whose business in the United States was seized in 2005 in connection with involvement in Bout's alleged illegal arms trade, insists that the U.S. government officials attempted to force him to testify against Bout, and when he refused the FBI raided his house and seized his computer, documents, and over $1 million in assets as part of an investigation into his friend's financial empire.
According to Kommersant, the witness said in his written testimony that the U.S. authorities had launched a "witch hunt" against Bout for a number of economic and political reasons.
The first of these was that Bout had undermined the Western monopoly on the control over natural resources in Africa by setting up a network of more than 50 cargo aircraft around the world as an alternative to transportation provided by the West.
However, UN reports say that Bout used his cargo fleet to facilitate his arms dealings.

Secondly, in Chichakli's opinion, the case is a U.S. attempt to indirectly accuse Russia of providing international terrorists, such as the Taliban, al-Qaeda and Colombian rebels, with weaponry.

Thai authorities are facing a tough choice, as whichever way they rule is likely to harm relations with either Moscow or Washington. Russia has consistently said that Bout should be freed.

The Rest @ Ria Novosti

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