Judge Orders Viktor Bout out of Solitary Confinement

Russian arms trafficking suspect Viktor Bout, center, in U.S. custody after being flown from Bangkok to New York on Tuesday Nov. 16, 2010 in a chartered U.S. plane, extradited in manacles to face terrorism charges. (AP Photo/Drug Enforcement Administration)

Less than an hour ago I was notified by Vasili Sushko, a reporter from the Voice of Russia about Judge Shira A. Scheindlin’s decision to release Viktor Bout from solitary confinement into the general prison population. It was not a surprise for anyone who has attended the last two hearings regarding this issue. The Honorable Shira A. Scheindlin spoke in defense of Viktor Bout when addressing the supervising prison attorney Adam Johnson earlier this month. The quote below as well as the next few excerpts are all taken from my article titled, Prison Warden to Judge: Viktor Bout Might Plot Prison Break:

Scheindlin told Johnson that he should call Bout’s prison conditions by their name. “Long-term solitary confinement is the way to put it,” Scheindlin said, adding that “studies have been conducted” on its effects.

During a recent court hearing the judge also referred to Viktor Bout as a businessman when she spoke to Suzanne Hastings, the prison warden at the prison where Bout is being held.

“He’s a businessman, he’s an arms dealer. I’ve never heard any evidence he was involved in violence,” Scheindlin said, asking for evidence that would show Bout’s solitary confinement is necessary to protect guards as well as other prisoners.

It was fairly obvious from the judges words and tone that the only thing keeping Viktor Bout in solitary confinement was the law and if she was legally able to move him she more than likely would have him transferred.

After Adam Johnson and Suzanne Hastings spoke, the judge asked prosecutor Sahni both specifically and directly, “What power do I have here, If any? Legally I mean.”

Here is the actual 18 page document from the judge provided by the court on todays ruling:

Please see the attached opinion and order in the matter of United States v. Viktor Bout, 08-CR-00365. United States District Judge Shira A. Scheindlin has ordered that Viktor Bout be immediately transferred from the Manhattan Correctional Center’s Special Housing Unit to the general population. [See attached file: US v. Bout Prison Order.pdf]

According to an article that appeared today titled, US judge transfers Viktor Bout from solitary cell , the judge stated her reasons for her decision on overruling the prison authorities are as follows:

Viktor Bout with translations headphones and the honorable judge judge Shira A. Scheindlin on the bench.

Judge Shira Scheindlin quoted the US Supreme Court in her ruling, stating that Bout’s rights under the constitution were being violated.

“After fifteen months in solitary confinement with extremely minimal human contact and mobility, Viktor Bout requests that he be transferred to general population,” Scheindlin wrote.

“Because I ‘cannot simply defer to the Warden and abandon my duty to uphold the constitution,’ I must grant Bout’s request.”

On February 10th, 20102 I wrote an article titled, The Viktor Bout Saga: Inside the Court Room, which contained a link to the letter form Viktor Bout’s attorney Albert Y. Dayan that was behind the judges decision today. Here is a link to the letter: Albert Y. Dayan’s letter to judge Scheindlin on Viktor Bout’s prison conditions

I have stated many times throughout the trial as well as Albert Dayan, that judge Scheindlin has been more than fair throughout this trial as well as post trial. Now the same person that has just made Viktor Bout’s life more tolerable and humane is ironically the same person that will decide his fate. The Viktor Bout saga continues, on March 12, 2012 scheduled at 4:30pm, the Honorable Shira A. Scheindlin will be the one who will decide Viktor Bout’s prison sentence.

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