MOSCOW, June 24 (RAPSI) – Konstantin Yaroshenko, a Russian pilot convicted in the United States, does not believe that he will receive a fair trial in a US court, he told Voice of Russia radio.
On June 10, the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in New York rejected his appeal against a 20-year sentence for drug trafficking. The court announced that it considered the new arguments provided by the defense and ruled that they were unsubstantiated.
"The ruling was based on extremely weak arguments and does not answer our questions," Yaroshenko said. "My lawyer, Alexei Tarasov, is determined to continue his efforts to prove my innocence because we have a well-thought-out rationale that should expose the prosecutors' and the US government's lies. But frankly, I am starting to lose hope. I no longer seem to believe that we will reach justice, no matter how many facts we present to the court."
He said that he pins his only hope on the Russian government's intervention to secure his return.
"I expect more specific actions on the government's part," he said. "The US government has violated thousands of its own laws. My lawyer has pointed out multiple inconsistencies in my case, from the circumstances of my arrest to the treatment that I received in prison and the evidence fabricated against me. Thus, I am asking the government to demand explanations and to ensure my return to Russia."
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 to 20 years in prison for colluding to smuggle cocaine into the United States. He was caught after replying to an advert posted by DEA agents who claimed 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. He said he did want to buy a plane, but did not plan to use it to transport drugs.
In mid-May, his lawyers forwarded their arguments to the appeals court. They insisted that the verdict be overturned due to a lack of evidence and asked the court to consider new documents about Yaroshenko being tortured in Liberia and illegal actions taken by US special services in Ukraine.
However, the court ruled that, in accordance with the law, neither cruelty on the part of the police nor kidnapping by government agents can be considered sufficient grounds for appealing a verdict.
Regarding Yaroshenko's alleged torture in Liberia, the court stated that it cannot force a foreign state to comply with procedure when delivering defendants for extradition.
As for the allegations that the evidence was unclear, the court said the conspirators may not have agreed on the size of advance payment under the $4.5 million contract, but they did agree on the planned criminal actions and the overall price. This was enough to establish "implied assent" between conspirators and to prove their collusion over the criminal scheme in general, the appeals court concluded.