Lawyers for Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, who has been found guilty on all counts by U.S. jury, said will challenge his verdict based on a n interview one of the jurors gave the New York Times daily.
As a prospective juror in the trial of Viktor Bout, Heather Hobson, 42, told defense lawyers and prosecutors that she knew nothing of Mr. Bout’s reputed exploits as an international arms dealer. Later, she unanimously agreed that Bout was guilty of conspiracy to kill Americans, to acquire and use anti-aircraft missiles and to provide material support to terrorists.
The former Russian military officer denied all the charges against him. The court will announce Bout's sentence on February 8. He could receive a life sentence.
However, it turned out that the juror’s knowledge of Bout was more expansive than she had realized.
“I had seen that terrible Nicolas Cage movie,” she told New York Times, a reference to the film “Lord of War,” which is believed to have been inspired by Mr. Bout, “and I had no idea it was about this guy.”
“Our lawyer will challenge the verdict based on this interview,” Viktor Bout’s wife Alla said.
The Russian Foreign Ministry on Thursday accused “structures in the executive branch” of the American government of pressuring the United States District Court in Manhattan to deliver a guilty verdict.
Russian Vice-Consul Alexander Otchainov, who regularly visited Bout in prison, said that Russia would continue to support him.
Russian State Duma Deputy Leonid Slutsky dismissed the verdict as “a typical American propaganda ploy.”
“They made Bout out to be some kind of evil genius,” said Slutsky, a member of Vladimir Zhirinovsky’s right-wing Liberal Democratic Party (LDPR).
Slutsky, who is the first deputy chairman of the Duma’s Foreign Affairs Committee, said the entire history of the case, from the sting operation that snared Bout to his extradition from Thailand and trial in the U.S., was clearly prejudicial.