US trial for 'Merchant of Death' after extradition
Wednesday 17 November 2010
Thailand extradited accused Russian arms trafficker Viktor Bout to the US yesterday to face terrorism charges, siding with Washington in a tug-of-war with Moscow over whether to send him to stand trial or let him go home.
The Thai Cabinet approved Bout's extradition after a long legal battle. The 43-year-old was put on a plane at Bangkok at about 1:30pm (0630 GMT) in the custody of eight US officials.
The Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said his Cabinet approved extradition after an appeals court decided Bout could be legally extradited.
Bout, a former Soviet air force officer who is reputed to have been one of the world's most prolific arms dealers, was arrested at a Bangkok luxury hotel in March 2008. He has allegedly supplied weapons that fuelled civil wars in South America, the Middle East and Africa, with clients including Liberia's Charles Taylor, Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi and both sides in Angola's civil war.
He has been referred to as "the Merchant of Death", and was an inspiration for the arms dealer played by Nicolas Cage in the 2005 film Lord of War.
Thai police commandoes in full combat gear accompanied Bout from prison to the tarmac at Bangkok's Don Muang airport. Bout wore a bulletproof vest and ballistic helmet over a blue track suit as he boarded the plane. His wife rushed to the prison but did not get to see him before his departure.
On Tuesday Russia described the extradition as "unlawful". "From a legal point of view what has happened cannot have any rational explanation or justification," said a statement issued in Moscow by the Russian Foreign Ministry. "There is no way to characterise this other than as interference in administering justice, which puts in doubt the independence of the Thai justice system."
Asked if he was worried that Thai relations with Russia would be affected, Mr Abhisit said: "We have the duty to perform whatever is deemed necessary... We can't satisfy everyone, we have to admit that." The US embassy made no comment.
Both Moscow and Washington were reported to have exerted heavy pressure on Abhisit's government. Russia says Bout is an innocent businessman and wants him in Moscow.
Animals found with 'puncture holes the size of a human finger'
Video: The official full-length trailer for the Jurassic Park sequel has dropped – two days early
- 1 Tamir Rice: 12-year-old boy playing with fake gun dies after being shot by Ohio police
- 3 Black Friday 2014: Opening hours for John Lewis, Asda, PC World, GAME and Argos
- 4 Bill Cosby: Isn’t it obvious why his accusers have stayed silent up until now?
- 5 Jeremy Hunt: 'I took my children to A&E because I didn't want to wait for GP appointment'
Tamir Rice: 12-year-old boy playing with fake gun dies after being shot by Ohio police
Sarah Vine on Jack Monroe being a lesbian mother: 'If she was unsure about her sexuality, she should have taken greater precautions'
Black Friday 2014: Opening hours for John Lewis, Asda, PC World, GAME and Argos
Michael Brown shooting: Ten things we know – or know better – now the Ferguson grand jury's work is over
Ferguson riots: The most powerful images to emerge from protests over Michael Brown killing
Rochester by-election: Ukip gains second MP as Tory defector Mark Reckless holds seat
'Beast of Bolsover' Dennis Skinner takes Ukip MP Mark Reckless to task moments after he is sworn in
Rochester by-election: Labour MP Emily Thornberry resigns after posting white van and England flags tweet
The young are the new poor: Sharp increase in number of under-25s living in poverty, while over-65s are better off than ever
Revealed: How the world gets rich – from privatising British public services
Exclusive: UK approved £7m Israeli arms sales in six months before Gaza conflict
£22000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An experienced Systems Manager ...
£25000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This successful, VC-funded star...
Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: CHESHIRE MARKET TOWN - An exciting and rare o...
Excellent Salary : Austen Lloyd: NORTH HAMPSHIRE - SENIOR POSITION - An exciti...