Richard Ammar Chichakli, a Syrian-American whose uncle and father were once president and commander of his country's military, respectively, and an OFAC-sanctioned individual who is serving a five year sentence for violations of US regulations on transfers of aircraft, has, through his counsel, filed his Brief of Appellant, asserting a number of evidentiary errors at trial. Chichakli, whose aviation skills (certificated FAA air traffic controller, learned while serving in US military), and accounting background (CPA), were skillfully employed in a long association with Russian arms trafficker, Viktor Bout, is seeking a reversal of his conviction, alleging that he did not receive a fair trial.
The appellant's Points on Appeal, for those readers who have been following his case, quoted directly from his brief:
(1) The Evidentiary Errors individually and collectively denied Mr. Chichakli a Fair Trial.
(2) The Trial Court improperly admitted exhibits related to [Viktor] Bout's laptop.
(3) The Trial Court improperly admitted exhibits relating to documents purportedly seized from Mr. Chichakli's residence.
(4) The Trial Court improperly admitted the summary exhibits, and permitting a summary witness to testify.
(4) The Evidentiary Errors taken together denied Mr. Chichakli a Fair Trial.
Readers who were hoping for a glimpse into the shadowy arms trafficking world that Chichakli & Bout lived in for several years, especially their relationship with America's intelligence community, will be disappointed, and the profusely cited brief sticks to the evidentiary issues that the appellant's counsel have presented. The brief does explain why the trial judge departed below the Guidelines at sentencing: the Court took into account the difficulties he faced in the past, as the consequences of his OFAC designation, in the past, and most likely, in the future.
When the US Government files its brief, we will be in a better position to evaluate the issues on their merits. Was there reversible error ? We cannot say, but we shall continue to follow this case.