Sunday, April 26, 2009

New witness emerges in Bout case in Thailand

BANGKOK, April 24 (Itar-Tass) -- A new witness has emerged in the case of Russian citizen Viktor Bout, who is being tried in Thailand.

According to a document received by the Itar-Tass Bangkok office on Friday, U.S. citizen Richard Chichakli is a witness for the defense. U.S. security services and a UN report repeatedly mentioned Chichakli as a partner and the financial director of Bout companies in South Africa.

Chichakli sent his testimony to the court in writing. He said that he had been persecuted by the American government since 2005 and had no chance for a fair trial because he had refused to support the attempts to seize Bout.

In the words of Chichakli, the investigation of his alleged business relationship with Bout was held in 2002-2008 and did not expose any violations.

Chichakli said that the George W. Bush administration started the political persecution of Bout in 2004 and he experienced the same persecution when he raised his voice.

Alla Bout told Itar-Tass that Chichakli came to South Africa from the United States in the 1990s for auditing her husband’s companies.

“In the same period Viktor was approached by U.S. agents, who suggested cooperation and asked for information about transport operations on the African continent. The cooperation was denied, and the persecution started. Richard Chichakli was the alleged proof to the existence of mythical companies of the husband. His property and accounts were seized in the United States some time later. The American government claimed they were the assets of the husband, who had never been to the United States and never had any accounts there,” she said.

Chichakli stressed that the American authorities claimed that his frozen accounts allegedly belonged to Bout.

The Bout myth was created by UN contractor named Johan Peleman in 2000; Bout had been an ordinary man until then, Chichakli said. In his words, Peleman’s report was stuffed with false information, including that about Chichakli. The report claimed that Chichakli was the financial director in charge of daily operations of the conglomerate headquartered in South Africa while Chichakli was serving in the U.S. Army in another part of the world at that time.

The Thai court will decide whether to accept the testimony on April 29.

In the opinion of Alla Bout, “the evidence supported with documents is a serious and logical proof of the U.S. political persecution of Bout and people who contacted him even briefly.”

Bout was apprehended in Bangkok in March 2008 on suspicion of illegal arms trade. The United States demands his transfer and lifetime imprisonment. No evidence to his culpability has been presented to the court, and the prosecutor bases his statements on newspaper articles.

1 comment:

Helen said...

It is worthy to mention that in the case of Chichakli FBI came up with Secret Evidence memo to help OFAC defend itself against lawsuit filed by Chichakli. Chichakli and his lawyer were denied to see the evidence marked Secret.
Now, why would Bout get a fair trial in US when American citizen is denied a fair unbiased and open trial?!
Chichakli maintains his site with lots of information related to his case: