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High Profile US Lawyer Helps Arms Trafficker Bout in New Trial Quest

Russian arms trafficker Viktor Bout is back in the news again, claiming he has new evidence that should provide him a new trial and he’s using a high profile US lawyer to do the legals for him.

Bout has hired former US attorney general John Ashcroft to help with his case, the Guardian reports

Bout, 47, is serving a 25-year prison sentence following his conviction in 2011 for conspiring to kill US soldiers by way of his agreement to sell weapons to a Colombian rebel group.

According to filings on Monday with the US district court in Manhattan, Bout hired the Ashcroft law firm and Alexey Tarasov, a Houston-based lawyer, to help him obtain a new trial based on unspecified “newly discovered evidence”.

On Monday, US district judge Shira Scheindlin granted Bout until 1 Jan 2015 to formally seek a new trial, allowing his new lawyers more time to examine the issues.

Bout’s deadline to seek a new trial had been Monday, but he said the office of US attorney Preet Bharara in Manhattan was “not opposed” to a 60-day extension.

Michael Sullivan, a partner at Ashcroft’s firm and former US attorney in Massachusetts who would work on the case, declined to comment. Tarasov did not respond to requests for comment.

A spokeswoman for Bharara declined to comment.

Bout’s challenge follows the refusal in September 2013 by the federal appeals court in Manhattan to overturn his conviction, which he claimed followed a “vindictive” prosecution and his improper extradition from Thailand to face US charges.

Jurors convicted Bout of having agreed to sell arms to informants posing as members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc), which the US government had deemed a foreign terrorist organisation, and conspiring to acquire and export anti-aircraft missiles.

Co-defendant Richard Chichakli, a dual American and Syrian citizen, was convicted of conspiracy charges last December.

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