MOSCOW, October 21 (RAPSI) – The Russian embassy has submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice a request for extradition of pilot Konstantin Yaroshenko, who is serving a 20-year sentence in the U.S. for conspiracy to smuggle cocaine, RIA Novosti reported on Friday citing Konstantin Dolgov, the Russian Foreign Ministry's Commissioner for Human Rights.
The U.S. authorities are to consider the request in accordance with the established procedure, the agency quoted Dolgov as having said.
According to Yaroshenko’s attorneys, consideration of the issue can take several months. “We hope that they would not protract this procedure,” Dolgov said.
In September, Yaroshenko in an interview to Izvestia newspaper claimed that U.S. Federal Bureau of Prisons asked him to sign a document on transfer to Russia.
According to Yaroshenko, such transfer is regulated by the Strasbourg Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons adopted in 1983. Yaroshenko noted that several years ago the Russian Justice Ministry made a request to transfer the pilot to Russia under conditions of the Convention but U.S. side rejected this motion.
Yaroshenko said that he did not want this petition to be presented by the U.S. side and that he would prefer to sign a petition offered by the Russian Justice Ministry since he is not sure about motivation of the U.S. authorities.
Nevertheless, the pilot signed the petition on September 13.
Konstantin Yaroshenko was arrested in Liberia on May 28, 2010 and flown to the United States soon afterwards. On September 7, 2011, he was sentenced to 20 years in prison for colluding to smuggle cocaine into the United States. He was caught after replying to an advertisement posted by US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents who claimed they were selling a cargo plane for $1.
He is serving time in the Federal Correctional Institution in Fort Dix, New Jersey.
In late May, a US court rejected his appeal for a retrial. Russia’s Foreign Ministry said this is evidence that Yaroshenko’s conviction was politically influenced.
It was reported in February 2014 that Yaroshenko experienced strong migraine headaches and heart pain, which could be symptoms of a possible heart attack. Moscow has repeatedly expressed concern over the pilot’s health and pledged to continue working to ensure respect of his rights in the United States.