Pattaya Daily News

12 August 2009 :: 00:08:02 am 8796

Thailand Won‘T Extradite Russian “Merchant Of Death”

BANGKOK, Aug 11 (TNA,Agencies) - Alleged to be an arms dealer supplying rebels and terrorist movements in Africa, Asia and Latin America epic proportions, Russian Viktor Bout has survived an extradition bid in Thailand by US authorities, with a Bangkok judge dashing US hopes in the high-profile case.
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However, James Entwistle, deputy chief of mission at the US embassy in Bangkok, said the court ruling would have no impact on bilateral relations between Thailand and the US.

Striking down the US request to turn over the former Soviet air force officer to the American authorities, a Bangkok court ruled on Tuesday that an anti-government movement in Columbia was a political movement and not a terrorist movement as portrayed by the US and that consequently Thailand could not interference in the internal political affairs of another country.

Said to be the inspiration for Hollywood actor Nicholas Cage’s ‘Merchant of Death’, Viktor Bout was arrested in March last year in a combined Thai-US sting operation in a Bangkok hotel. US agents posing as members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) tried to buy large quantities of military hardware from Mr Bout.

Clad in an orange prison jumpsuit and shackled, Mr Bout claimed in court that he was a legitimate businessman running an air cargo company, despite previous UN sanctions, being indicted by a Belgian court for alleged money-laundering indictment, and having his assets frozen by the US and an assets freeze by the US.

Forty-two-year-old Bout was defended in the media by wife Alla who claimed that no evidence was offered of her husband’s guilt.

US authorities say Mr Bout tried to sell billions of baht of deadly military hardware – weapons, SAM (surface-to-air missiles), helicopters and aircraft carrying grenade launchers and missiles – to the Colombian rebels. The US has levied alleged terrorism charges against him in New York.

Thai prosecutors have 72 hours to appeal the court ruling. If convicted, Mr Bout faces life in prison. (TNA)

Reporter : Methawee   Photo : Internet   Category : Crime News

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