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Extradition of alleged Russian arms dealer delayed: Thai PM

Thailand said on Wednesday that the extradition to the United States of an alleged Russian arms dealer dubbed the "Merchant of Death" has been delayed because of legal complications.



Bangkok: Thailand said on Wednesday that the
extradition to the United States of an alleged Russian arms
dealer dubbed the "Merchant of Death" has been delayed because
of legal complications.

Police had said yesterday that Viktor Bout, who faces
terrorism charges, would be escorted from jail today by 50
commandos to a Bangkok airport, where US authorities have sent
a private jet to fly him out.

But Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said the extradition
-- which is strongly opposed by Russia -- would not take place
today after all.

"There are several steps in the legal process," he told
reporters.

Bout, said to have inspired the Hollywood film "Lord of
War" starring Nicolas Cage, has been fighting extradition
since his March 2008 arrest after a Bangkok sting operation
involving US agents posing as Colombian rebels.

He faces a maximum sentence of life in prison if
convicted in the United States on charges including conspiracy
to kill US nationals and to provide material support or
resources to a foreign terrorist organisation.

Bout rejects the charges and says that he ran a
legitimate air cargo business.

A Thai appeals court on Friday ordered the extradition of
the 43-year-old former Soviet air force pilot, who is said to
speak six languages and go by at least seven different
aliases.

But the process has been held up because of new charges
of money laundering and fraud announced by US prosecutors in
February this year, with another court hearing set for October
4 in Thailand.

Suthep Thaugsuban, deputy prime minister in charge of
national security, said that the Thai Criminal Court would
have to drop proceedings related to the new US charges before
he can be handed over to the United States.

"There are new charges that the United States filed and
they are still in court, so the prosecutor has to seek court
approval to drop them and we don`t know what the court`s
decision will be," he told reporters.

PTI

From Zee News

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