Juror in Bout trial not biased by film: US judge

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A US judge on Wednesday rejected a defense lawyer's claim that a juror in the trial of Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout had been biased by a violent movie loosely based on his life.

Questioned by Judge Shira Scheindlin over whether she had realized that events chronicled in "Lord of War," starring Nicolas Cage, bore similarities with Bout's career, the juror, Heather Hobson, said: "Absolutely not."

"Do you remember anyone discussing that movie during the trial or during deliberations?" Scheindlin asked.

"Not that I recall," Hobson replied.

Scheindlin said the issue, brought up by Bout's legal team, was closed. "There's nothing more to talk about," the judge added.

Defense lawyers appealed the guilty verdict after Hobson was quoted by The New York Times, following the trial, saying that she had seen "that terrible Nicolas Cage movie," but she had not known it was meant to portray Bout.

Bout was found guilty in November on four counts of conspiring to sell missiles to terrorists and to kill American service personnel. He now faces a minimum of 25 years in jail and possibly up to life in prison.

The Russian was brought to the United States after a lengthy sting operation that ended with his arrest in Thailand.

Bout says he only ever transported arms as part of a legitimate air cargo business. His extradition from Thailand sparked anger in Russia, where Bout had been living openly, despite longstanding allegations that he was a major black market arms dealer.

© 2011 AFP

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