The Wall Street Journal on April 17, 2012 released the following:
“By Chad Bray
The testimony and assistance of a dual British-South African citizen was “crucial” in securing the conviction of notorious arms dealer Viktor Bout, prosecutors said in a court filing late Monday.
Andrew Smulian, 71 years old, was arrested in Thailand, along with Bout, as part of an undercover sting operation by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration in March 2008 and he waived extradition. After arriving in the U.S., he began providing information to prosecutors and pleaded guilty to four conspiracy counts in July 2008.
In a sentencing memorandum filed late Monday, federal prosecutors in Manhattan sad that Smulian’s cooperation was a key: ranging from detailing meetings and conversations with Bout to refuting Bout’s defense that he only intended to sell airplanes, not weapons.
“Smulian was also able to describe coded email messages and intercepted phone conversations, as only an insider in a secretive conspiracy could,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Brendan R. McGuire said in a court filing. “Although the recordings and emails themselves were powerful evidence of Bout’s guilt, the context and explanation that Smulian provided–and the credible manner in which he provided them–was critical to the government’s proof at trial.”
Bout was sentenced to 25 years in prison earlier this month after he was convicted last year of four conspiracy counts, including conspiracies to sell surface-to-air missiles, to kill Americans and to provide material support to a Colombian rebel group.
Labeled the “Merchant of Death” at one point by American officials, Bout, 45 years old, has denied wrongdoing. His lawyer, Albert Y. Dayan, has said Bout was only trying to sell two cargo planes when he went to the meeting in Thailand and has said his prosecution was “the product of outrageous, inexcusable government conduct.”
Bout was extradited to the U.S. in 2010 after two years of legal wrangling and over the objections of the Russian government.
Smulian’s lawyer, Mary E. Mulligan, has asked that her client be sentenced to “time served,” citing his cooperation, his health and his acceptance of responsibility. In a court filing earlier this month, she noted that he has been in custody since his arrest more than four years ago and suffers from a “battery of chronic and serious medical conditions,” including hypertension and type II diabetes.
“The successful prosecution of Viktor Bout resulting from Mr. Smulian’s cooperation has sent a powerful message both domestically and internationally that terrorist activity against the United States will be investigated and prosecuted aggressively and successfully,” Mulligan said in court papers. “It was Mr. Smulian’s cooperation in the Bout prosecution that brought this to bear.””
Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
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