Moscow: Russia on Tuesday slammed the
extradition of its national Viktor Bout to the US by Thailand,
saying it was result of "unprecedented political pressure"
by Washington on Bangkok.
"Undoubtedly, the illegal extradition of Bout is a
result of the unprecedented political pressure on the Thai
government and the judicial authorities by the United States,"
the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
The 43-year-old former Russian army officer, dubbed Merchant of Death, was arrested in Thailand
"Bout`s handover questions the independence of the
entire Thai judicial system. There was no rational explanation
or justification for the decision," the foreign office said.
He was facing deportation on the US extradition
request to face conspiracy charges for allegedly selling
weapons to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC),
and other illegal arms deals.
The head of a lucrative air transport empire, Bout had
long evaded UN and US sanctions aimed at blocking his
financial activities and restricting his travel. He claims he
ran a legitimate business and never sold weapons, and fought
hard to avoid extradition.
If convicted he face life sentence in the US.
Bout had denied the charges and was hoping that
Moscow`s intervention could free him and return home.
His Thai lawyer, Lak Nitivat, told Russian TV that
Thai authorities had failed to notify him, Bout`s wife and the
Russian embassy about the extradition.
The Ministry said it will continue to provide legal
assistance to Bout after his abrupt extradition by the Thai
court this morning.
Bout has allegedly supplied weapons that fuelled civil
wars in South America, the Middle East and Africa, with
clients including Liberia`s Charles Taylor and Libyan leader
Moammar Gadhafi and both sides in Angola`s civil war.
The 2005 Hollywood movie, `The Lord of War`, starring
Nicholas Cage was based on Bout’s adventures.