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Pattaya Daily News

13 March 2008 :: 16:03:52 pm 11957

Merchant Of Death Bout Fails Bid To Be Granted Bail In Bangkok

Viktor Vasilevich Bout, the so-called "Merchant or Lord of Death", ex-KGB major, international arms dealer and blood diamond trader, was denied bail in Bangkok on Tuesday, March 11, on the grounds that he might flee the country. It will be at least two months before he can be extradited to the US to face charges relating to his selling weaponry to the FARC.
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Bout maintained that he was in Thailand merely on holiday and strenuously denies that he was conducting a lucrative arms deal, involving missiles and rocket launchers, with FARC, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, whom his lawyer, Lak Nitiwatvichan, denied are terrorists – “They are just rebels standing on the opposite side to the government,” Lak maintained.

The Thai police are currently attempting to garner more incriminating evidence before Bout’s case is passed over to the prosecutors in approximately two months. They are also seeking to co-operate with their Russian counterparts to freeze Bout’s assets.

Bout is being charged with “seeking or gathering assets for terrorism”, a charge which Lawyer Lak further denied, claiming his client was not involved with terrorist groups like Al Qaeda or Jemaah Islamiah. This despite a well-established claim by Washington’s International Consortium of Investigative Journalists in 2002 that Bout had sold millions of dollars worth of weaponry to the Taliban in the late 1990s and it is also asserted by some US and UN officials that Bout made his first deal with the Taliban in 1996 in the United Arab Emirates. He is also alleged to have used his airline “Air Bas” to ferry Taliban and al-Qaida gold out of Afghanistan to Karachi, Iran, the UAE, and Khartoum after the rout of the Taliban.

“Viktor B”, so called due to his use of at least five aliases and variant spellings of his surname, is a polyglot who speaks at least five languages and has been dubbed the world’s premier illegal arms merchant. He was described in 2000, by Peter Hain, the then British Foreign Office Minister responsible for Africa, as “the chief sanctions buster and…a merchant of death.” He is known to have been involved in numerous arms deals in many African countries, the Philippines, the Lebanon and Afghanistan, amongst other countries; often playing off one side against another.

The US is keen to extradite him to America to face charges relating to his arms dealing with FARC, but will have to wait until the Thai process of law has reached its conclusions. However, in a situation reminiscent of the US’s dealings with Saddam Hussein, there is a compromising situation relating to Bout’s immunity, as he has also contracted for the US military, transporting US military personnel to Afghanistan and flying material into Baghdad International airport for the US occupation forces in 2004. The fact that DOD contractors had subcontracted to Bout companies is indisputable and was reluctantly acknowledged by Paul Wolfowitz, while at US Department of Defence

Reporter : PDN staff   Photo : Internet   Category : Crime News

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