Posts Tagged ‘Shira Scheindlin’

Wholly Thursday

April 6, 2012

Judge Shira has spoken, and Viktor Bout has been sentenced to 25 years in federal prison.  The fact that this is the minimum sentence mandated by law ought to tell you something about what the judge thinks of the federal government’s case.  In her remarks at sentencing, Judge Scheindlin came just about as close to calling it outright entrapment as judicial ethics will permit:

 “But for the approach made through this determined sting operation, there is no reason to believe Bout would ever have committed the charged crimes,” Scheindlin said.  The judge also ordered a $15 million forfeiture.

It’s not clear where Bout is expected to come up with that kind of money, especially since those “FARC operatives” never did buy any of his cargo planes.   Perhaps the SDNY prosecutors’ sentencing memo explicitly identified the location and magnitude of Bout’s overseas assets in order to justify forfeiture.   Lunghu kinda doubts it:  the sources and methods by which such information would be obtained are considered more valuable than the paltry $15 million nobody will ever collect.   Perhaps Rosboronexport will just have to build that cost into the price of those Hind helicopters that Afghanistan is buying with U.S. aid money.

Where do we go from here?  Bout’s attorney —Albert Dayanwill appeal the conviction.   The U.S. Bureau of Prisons will choose a new, semi-permanent home for Viktor Bout (probably after the Easter weekend, unless the U.S. Marshals are looking for an overtime detail).  And sometime later in the month, we’ll know from the BOP Inmate Locator service where Viktor is housed.  Just a reminder:  Lunghu is rooting for Fairton FCI.

In the meantime, certain people will undoubtedly encourage Comrade Bout to be more talkative and forthcoming.  There will be plenty of time to reflect and reminisce, to chat beside the steaming samovar and recall times gone by.  It’s always the little things that count.


Vee is for Viktor

February 25, 2012

Perhaps it was the grudging recognition that Defenders of the Fatherland are to be honored once a year  –on February 23rd.  Perhaps it was a minor twinge of judicial conscience.  Or maybe something else.  Whatever the reason …

Judge Shira Scheindlin ordered [Viktor Bout] to be moved from solitary confinement to a prison’s general population Friday, an unusual move in a courthouse where judges usually leave those decisions to the U.S. Bureau of Prisons.  She rejected arguments by the government that Bout [as a convicted terrorism conspirator] was a danger within the prison: “This case differs significantly from a standard terrorism case,” the judge wrote.  Scheindlin observed that Bout was approached by government agents posing as members of a terrorist organization and there was no evidence at trial that Bout had any connection to terrorists.

She also dismissed claims by the government that Bout could acquire vast resources to escape or harm people, saying the claims were “simply not supported by any evidence.”  Scheindlin also noted there was no evidence that Bout engaged in violent acts or was more than a businessman engaged in arms trafficking.

Gee, what with all this lack of actual evidence, chances of a successful appeal might be looking pretty good.  But before any appeal, first there must be a sentencing.  March 12th … until otherwise noted.  And then the federal Bureau of Prisons will no longer be bound by the judge’s orders.  Should be interesting.



Refuge at Last

December 22, 2011

Pity the poor Finns!  They haven’t even (officially) managed to get to the bottom of the 2009 M/V Arctic Sea saga, and now someone has dropped another boatload of missiles into their laps  –this time, American ones.

The Finnish authorities have impounded an Isle of Man-flagged ship bound for China with undeclared missiles and explosives, officials say.  Routine checks by Finland’s traffic safety authority revealed a load of up to 160 tons of improperly packed nitroguanidine, a low-sensitivity explosive with a high detonation speed.   Police are questioning the crew of the MS Thor Liberty after what were described as 69 Patriot anti-missile missiles were found in containers marked “fireworks”.

Fireworks enroute to China:   it’s like carrying coals to Newcastle all over again.

credit: L K Gilbert


BBC News accompanied their online story with an archive photo showing a Patriot missile launcher deployed at a Greek air force base. Are they hinting at something that no one’s willing to actually say quite yet?  Like maybe the bankrupt Greeks are paying off debts by selling high-tech NATO weaponry to Russia and China?

AP via BBC


Lunghu thinks that the ostensible destination of this shipment –Shanghai– is quite a clever touch:  it’s almost enough to make him believe that Comrade Bear is behind the whole thing, seeking to torque up tension between China and the United States, embarrass the Obama administration in an election year, and sow seeds of mistrust within NATO.  Too complicated?  Maybe.

Mind you, there’s no reason that an enterprising Chinese missile entrepreneur wouldn’t like to have a few dozen Patriot missiles in stock … just to round out his inventory.

Return Bout

Meanwhile, Lunghu is sure this is just a coincidence:

Judge Shira Scheindlin interviewed a juror from [last month’s] trial of Viktor Bout at a brief hearing Wednesday. The juror said she had seen the film “Lord of War” before the trial began … [but] didn’t realize until after the trial was over that the movie pertained to Bout.  Judge Scheindlin [then] rejected requests by Bout’s lawyers that she rule the juror acted inappropriately in convicting him.