US authorities reconsidering high-security move for Viktor Bout
Arms dealer Viktor Bout has been given a stay of execution over plans to send the former Sharjah resident to a high-security prison in the US state of Colorado.
The US Bureau of Prisons is reconsidering its plan for the former Russian military officer who became known as the ‘Merchant of Death’ for selling weapons to some of the most dangerous groups in the world.
Bout ran an air cargo business in Sharjah in the 1980s and it is suspected that he used it as a front for his illegal arms trade. His lawyer said on Wednesday that Bout was relieved to learn he wouldn't be transferred as planned from New York to the so-called Supermax prison in Florence, Colorado.
Albert Y Dayan , who represented Bout when he was convicted of conspiracy relating to his support of a Colombian terrorist organisation, said he was notified on Tuesday that the Bureau of Prisons was delaying the transfer of Bout from a federal lockup in Brooklyn to another institution. And prosecutors on Tuesday notified the judge in a letter that the Bureau of Prisons was reevaluating where to send Bout, who was sentenced last month to 25 years in prison.
Dayan complained about the Supermax designation to the trial judge, federal prosecutors, the Bureau of Prisons and others after learning about it last week.
He spoke optimistically about the prospect of Bout, who's in his mid-40s, serving his time closer to New York in a prison where he can be in the general population, saying the judge, Bureau of Prisons and federal prosecutors were addressing "these issues with empathy."
US District Judge Shira Scheindlin ordered prior to sentencing that prison authorities move Bout from solitary confinement to the general population, calling his prison conditions "harsh" and "brutal.
Bout, the inspiration for an arms dealer character played by Nicolas Cage in the 2005 film ‘Lord of War’, had been held in isolated conditions since he was extradited in late 2010 from Thailand to face trial after his arrest there two years earlier. At the time, Dayan said he worried that Bout would end up in Supermax, where he said he believed inmates were "buried alive.
Dayan said Tuesday he hoped Bout, a vegetarian and classical music fan who speaks six languages, could be kept "healthy, mentally stable and physically fit" in prison.