Bout hires former Bush Atty. General’s firm for new trial

In a bid to end his 25-year prison sentence, convicted arms dealer Viktor Bout has hired former Atty. General John Ashcroft’s law firm to press for a new trial.

According to documents filed Monday with the U.S. District Court in Manhattan, Bout is now represented by the Virginia-based Ashcroft Group as well as Alexey Tarasov, a Houston attorney. Bout’s papers said he intended to seek a new trial based on “newly discovered evidence.”

Bout’s decision to hire Ashcroft’s firm is significant because Ashcroft was attorney general during the period that the Russian’s air cargo planes were flying supplies into Iraq for the U.S. military and the U.S. civilian administration then in charge of Iraq. Ashcroft had left the government by the time the Drug Enforcement launched its sting operation against Bout that led to his capture in Thailand in 2008 and eventual conviction in 2011.

Bout, 47, was convicted for conspiring to kill American soldiers and officials and other charges and is now serving a 25-year term in a federal prison in Illinois. He was arrested in Bangkok by Thai police after he unwittingly conspired with drug informants posing as terrorists and agreed to provide them with sophisticated arms to attack U.S. airplanes. Bout was later extradited to New York, where he went on trial in November 2011. A Bout accomplice, Richard Chichakli, is due to be sentenced this month for his own conviction related to the Bout case.

U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin, who oversaw Bout’s trial, ruled Monday that Bout has until Jan. 1, 2015 to formally request a new trial.

–Reuters, “Convicted Russian arms trafficker Viktor Bout says he has evidence to justify a new US trial and has hired the law firm of former US attorney general John Ashcroft to help him pursue his case.”