US Supreme Court refuses to hear Russian jailed pilot case
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MOSCOW, October 17 (RAPSI) - The U.S. Supreme Court declined on Tuesday to hear an appeal filed by Russian pilot Konstantin Yaroshenko, who had been sentenced to 20 years in jail in the United States for involvement in conspiring to smuggle drugs.
In a summary order, the high court denied a petition for a writ of certiorari and a motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis filed by Yaroshenko.
Yaroshenko and Nigerian Chigbo Peter Umeh were arrested in Liberia in an undercover operation in May 2010. Shortly after, both were flown to the United States. In April 2011, Yaroshenko was sentenced for colluding to smuggle cocaine into the United States. He was caught after replying to an advertisement posted by a group of DEA agents, who claimed that they were selling a cargo plane for $1.
Yaroshenko pleaded innocent during the trial. He said his poor English prevented him from understanding the nature of the deal with the DEA agents. He claimed that he did want to buy a cargo plane, but did not plan to use it to transport drugs.
His defense lawyers forwarded their arguments to the appeals court. They insisted that the guilty verdict be overturned for lack of evidence and asked the court to consider new documents about Yaroshenko's torture in Liberia and illegal actions taken by US special services in Ukraine.
The US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in New York rejected the appeal of Yaroshenko last June. The court ruled that, in accordance with law, neither cruelty on the part of the police nor kidnapping by government agents can be considered sufficient grounds for appealing a verdict.
The court announced that it had considered the new arguments provided by the defense and ruled that they were unsubstantiated.
Yaroshenko's sentencing was followed later the same year with the sentencing of Viktor Bout. After being arrested as part of a DEA sting in Thailand, Bout was convicted in November 2011 of conspiracy to murder US nationals, and to sell arms to FARC members. Bout has consistently denied the charges against him.
The arrest and the prosecution of both men have damaged to the diplomatic ties between Russia and the United States. Moscow vows to pursue its options under the Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons if the appeals filed in the US by Yaroshenko and Bout prove fruitless.