Suspected Arms Smuggler Can’t Toss Charges

     MANHATTAN (CN) – A federal judge refused to toss an indictment against suspected international arms smuggler Viktor Bout, whose exploits loosely formed the basis for Nicholas Cage’s character in “Lord of War.”




     On March 6, 2008, Thai authorities arrested Bout in Bangkok as part of an international sting operation carried out by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.
     A grand jury indicted him a month later for allegedly conspiring to kill United States nationals; kill officers and employees of the United States; acquire, transfer, and use antiaircraft missiles; and provide material support to the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC), a designated terrorist organization.
     Bout was extradited to the United States on Nov. 16 and arraigned in New York’s Southern District the next day.
     According to the indictment, Bout conspired with Andrew Smulian to provide millions of dollars in weapons to kill American nationals, officers, and employees in Colombia.
     Smulian pleaded guilty to identical charges as part of his cooperation agreement with the government.
     In rejecting Bout’s bid to shake off the indictment on Monday, U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin noted that he tried and failed to convince a different judge that selling weapons to FARC did not constitute a conspiracy to kill Americans.
     “Here, the Indictment alleges that Bout offered to sell milli/ons of dollars of weapons to the FARC after acknowledging – at least three times at the March 6th meeting – his understanding that the FARC intended to use those weapons to kill U.S. forces in Colombia,” Scheindlin wrote (italics in original).
     She likewise brushed off Bout’s bid to throw out the charges on the basis of “outrageous government conduct.”
     “Here, ‘[a]t most, [Bout’s] allegations merely indicate that the Government created ‘an opportunity for the commission of crime by those willing to do so,’ investigatory conduct that is neither novel nor nefarious,'” Scheindlin wrote.
     In a separate motion, Bout’s attorneys moved to dismiss the indictment based on vindictive prosecution, unlawful extradition and the “rule of speciality.” That motion also sought to dismiss two counts on the grounds that the government failed to allege that Bout acted with malice aforethought.
     Scheindlin said that she would address those objections in a separate ruling.
     Bout’s trial is slated for October.

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