By Ria Novosti
Lawyers for Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, who has been found guilty on all counts by U.S. jury, have appealed the verdict citing ‘prejudice’ on the part of at least one juror.
On November 2, a jury in Federal District Court of New York found Bout, a former Russian Army officer, guilty of conspiracy to kill U.S. officials and citizens, to acquire and use anti-aircraft missiles and to provide support to terrorists.
Bout’s defense team, led by lawyer Albert Dayan, lodged on Friday a motion to District Court Judge Shira Scheindlin “to set aside the verdicts rendered against him [Bout] and for a new trial on the grounds that the verdicts were tainted by extraneous prejudicial information that came to the attention of a juror or jurors.”
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.
However, it turned out that the juror’s knowledge of Bout was more expansive than she had realized. Hobson admitted in a post-verdict interview with the New York Times that she had seen the “terrible” film “Lord of War,” which is believed to have been inspired by Bout, but had no idea it was about the defendant.
“The evidence that the jury foreperson had been exposed to information terribly prejudicial to Viktor Bout is “clear, “strong” and “incontrovertible” and the tenor of her delivery of the verdict in the court and her interview with the New York Times, as reported, indicates that this exposure affected her view of the defendant in a strongly negative way and contributed to the guilty verdicts,”
Bout’s sentence is expected to be announced on February 8. He could receive a life behind bars.