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Alleged arms dealer Bout wants replacement for U.S. federal lawyer

RIA Novosti

07:12 18/02/2011 NEW YORK, February 18 (RIA Novosti) - Alleged Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout is looking for private lawyers to defend him in a trial in the United States instead of a federal lawyer provided by the U.S. authorities, his wife Alla said.

"Viktor does not agree with the defense strategy. Lawyer Sabrina Shroff maintains that Viktor should start cooperating with prosecutors instead of insisting that he is not guilty," Alla Bout told RIA Novosti.

"But Viktor will continue proving his innocence," she said.

Former Soviet military officer Bout was arrested in Thailand in March 2008 during a sting operation led by U.S. agents. He was extradited to the United States in November last year after spending more than two and half years behind bars.

Bout, 44, is being held in a high security bloc of a New York prison while he awaits trial on charges including conspiring to supply arms to a Colombian terrorist group and kill U.S. nationals. The alleged arms dealer, dubbed "The Merchant of Death," could face anything from 25 years to life in prison if found guilty.

Bout's wife said the lawyers team is expected to be formed by early March and will involve both Russian and U.S. representatives. Bout's new lawyers are supposed to ask the prosecutors to delay the process to let them get acquainted with the case, which consists of more than 1,000 pages.

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